Poorly trained players get lost in harsh world

PSL players have not been covering themselves in glory in the last couple of weeks. Orlando Pirates’ attacking midfielder Thembinkosi Lorch was the first to make the headlines after he was slapped with three years’ imprisonment for assaulting his ex-girlfriend with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

However, the sentence was wholly suspended for five years on condition that he is not found guilty of committing a similar offence during the period of suspension. Lorch must consider himself lucky that he is not wearing orange overalls at Sun City prison and that after a couple of weeks, his flourishing career will continue at the Buccaneers.

Thamsanqa Gabuza also found himself off-sides when he appeared at the Alexandra magistrate’s court after another silly incident involving a Jozi woman. He appeared for malicious damage to property and his lawyer Themba Ngobeni argued for his client and the lanky striker was released after paying R3000 bail.

Former Kaizer Chiefs dribbling wizard Junior Khanye also made headlines after he visited the down and out Lerato Chabangu in Thembisa midweek. Khanye, a bad boy in his playing days, published the pictures on social media and the duo trended.  Chabangu is now a shadow of the prolific striker that used to bulge the nets when he turned out for SuperSport United, Mamelodi Sundowns and Bafana Bafana.

One can safely surmise that life has been roughing him up since he stopped playing.

Khanye received mixed reactions; others praised him for visiting and showing compassion to a former colleague while others said that the man with the famous toothy grin was showing off, flexing his threads and wheels.

Not so long ago, Katlego “Killer” Mphela resuscitated his life, becoming a car salesman after a glittering football career that saw him play in the French Ligue 1 for RC Strasbourg in the early 2000s. Mphela, who lined up for SA at the Fifa 2010 World Cup, has swallowed his pride and got his life back in order.

All these incidents may not be related but they are somehow intertwined. This is the plight suffered by a majority of SA footballers who are still active and those who have had to hang up their boots. More often than not, players tend to find themselves in untenable and undesirable situations.

As soon as they pop up onto the big stage, arrogance, disregard for order and sheer disrespect comes into play, and most cannot cope with the nuisances that come with stardom and the brighter lights of glamour living. The players have been used as bait by scheming hangers-on and the beautiful flowers of Azania, deserting them in a huff when their pockets have grown holes.

Partly, clubs are to blame. They do not educate the players or make them ready for the massive lifestyle change. The clubs need to do more in educating their players, not just about saving or investing, but about the responsibility and the expectations from the public.

Young kids look up to the players as role models. They follow their superstars and model their lives around their icons. They get inspiration from the players, they draw hope from the players’ life stories and upbringing – so they end up copying their behavioural patterns, on and off the field.

But players are adults and must take responsibility for their actions – much so the consequences. Lorch and Gabuza may have gotten off lightly and can still learn from the lessons. Mphela too has been given a lifeline. Chabangu needs serious attention and a shoulder to cry on, but it all starts with him.

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