They have tried to take it on the chin but they are all failing – they are literally down and out. The number of professional footballers reporting anxiety and depression symptoms has risen sharply upon football career retirement, a survey by FIFPRO and Footballers Union of Botswana (FUB) has found. These players are stone broke.
Notably, the percentage of professional footballers reporting symptoms of depression has doubled, hence Botho University and FUB reached an approbation to sign a Memorandum of Agreement that will see football athletes enrolling to gain new skills. The Botswana Football Association (BFA) famous for the penny wise and pound foolish approach to issues has all but kicking the can down the road on this matter hence FUB had to rise to the occasion.
FUB conducted an extensive research on their affiliated player associations and surveyed more than 1 500 professional footballers both retired and those that are still active. It is documented that local players live hand to mouth and it is no surprise that the FUB survey reveals this sob story.
It was found out that 95 percent of football players hold BGCSE qualification, 12 percent have gone up to tertiary level while the remainder has Junior Certificate as their academic achievement. This fed to the long standing narrative of why players fail to make ends meet at the sunset of their careers. When local players reach retirement they know they are moving out of a frying pan into the fire!
This study is consistent with another conducted recently after coronavirus forced football to be halted and players started to fret about their future. The previous study has shown FUB that a stitch in time saves nine – this is the reason why in two shakes of a lamb’s tail they engaged Botho University on the prospect of equipping football players.
22 percent of women players and 13 percent of men players reported symptoms consistent with a diagnosis of depression. Eighteen percent (18%) of the women and (16%) sixteen percent of the men reported symptoms consistent with a diagnosis of generalised anxiety. (In most scientific research work, a higher number of women than men report symptoms of depression and anxiety.)
Some players, especially those who have served in the national team feel that they have been taken for a ride by the football governing body therefore the crack up experienced by retired players. But they players seem to get solace from the English idiom, one cannot love and be wise – they so loved the game so much and forgot about their future.
The percentage of players reporting symptoms was significantly higher among those worried about their future in the football industry, the survey found. In a separate survey of 307 players, with a similar mean age, in December and January – before most football competitions were suspended – 11 percent of the female players and six percent of the male players reported symptoms consistent with a diagnosis of depression.
“These figures show there has been a sharp increase in players suffering from anxiety and depression symptoms since the coronavirus shut down professional football, and I fear that this is also the case for the whole of society facing an unprecedented emergency because of Covid-19,” FIFPRO Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Vincent Gouttebarge said.
“In football, suddenly young men and women athletes have to cope with social isolation, a suspension of their working lives and doubts about their future. Some may not be well equipped to confront these changes and we encourage them to seek help from a person they trust or a mental health professional.”
After an encounter with this study, Botho University saw it fit to start offering five (5) academic scholarship to players from certificate level to Master’s degree. Additionally, the university will provide short courses for 100 players, which will be conducted every 3 months. This effectively means that it is back to the drawing board for players because they will have to hit the books.
When speaking about the move, the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development Tumiso Rakgare said, “Each player should understand the importance of planning for the future. There are many areas where they can find space to operate once they retire. A player can coach, follow the administration route, and go into physio and counselling as some of the post career activities.”
But the devil is in the detail, what is BFA’s long term plan when it comes to players? Without a doubt these players who appear to be in troubled waters should blame the BFA’s hit or miss approach when it comes to governing domestic football for the dire straits.
Remnant of the historic Africa Cup of Nations squad of 2012, Mogakolodi ‘Tsotso’ Ngele and Botswana’s first-choice goal keeper, Kabelo Dambe, will never embody the future of the Zebras as long as Adel Amrouche is at the helm, WeekendSport has established.
The duo made this confession in the squad secret WhatsApp group seen by this publication, expressing concern and antipathy about playing for the squad heavily polarised by the coach.
It turns out that the coach has players he favours and prefers, many of who appear in the starting line-up as a long lasting promise to be signed under his stable. The aim is to ultimately recruit them to far flung clubs and earn a commission.
Ngele who remains the only player to have scored the Zebras goal (in open play) at the 2012 edition has endured a rocky affair with the coach.
Not much has been established as to why the affair is in tatters but sources claim that it stretched to a point where Amrouche confronted Ngele’s former coaches at Black Leopards to discuss possible options of side-lining him. The idea was to frustrate the player and kill his confidence as the only player Zebras looked up to.
Ngele, under former coach Peter Butler, was named the squad captain but under Amrouche, he has played cameo roles in World Cup and AFCON qualifiers. Ngele has made three appearances and came once as a substitute in all the 10 games Amrouche managed.
Ngele was hoping for his own great leap forward in an effort to end his nightmare and play for the Zebras especially after earning playing time with his new club, Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila.
Do this day, Ngele has made more than 35 appearances for the Zebras since earning his debut in 2009. Away from The Zebras stage, Ngele made significant contributions at Platinum Stars, the first team he signed his professional contract with. In 67 games, he scored 19 times.
Amrouche’s insistency and promise to make a loud impact in this year’s qualifiers did not bear fruit. Part of the blame is shoved on Township Rollers stopper, Kabelo Dambe. He is accused to have failed to stand strong for Zebras and shipped in simpler goals that cost the team to book a flight to Cameroon next year.
A goal against Algeria on home soil and a goal by Zimbabwe last month could have never gone through had he positioned himself better, critics claim.
Dambe who has more than 44 caps and played all Zebras games under Amrouche feels hard done and had hoped the coach and the nation would protect him. He feels the ambition of the country to qualify mirrors a tomorrow that could never come because of his mistakes.
Botswana Football Association (BFA) General Manager of National Teams, Monnakgotla Mojaki when pressed for interview failed to provide details about the future of the two stars.
He expressed concern that he was never hands on when the squad played the qualifiers. This according to Mojaki, was the case because the coach had barred him from mingling with the players.
“I am sorry I cannot assist you with anything, I know nothing and remember I have not spoken to anybody since I was asked not to come to camp,” he shared.
Both Dambe and Ngele are not only equally unhappy but are also equal in age; both are 30 years and have played for Platinum Stars at one point in their careers.
However, there is information to the effect that the duo made a promise to return one day, and that is when the coach has parted company with the association.
Lebogang Ditsile has begun to cast fresh doubts over his future as a Jwaneng Galaxy player. The hard tackling midfielder has handed the club management a transfer request amid rumours linking him with Gaborone United.
This week, the industrious player gave Galaxy an ultimatum -to either improve his contract benefits or let him go- this comes after a decision was taken to offer the whole team pay cuts amid the corona virus pandemic.
Galaxy has arrived at a conclusion of giving each player P3000 until a time football returns to the field.Ditsile, one of the club’ highest paid players is certainly restless and would not want to entertain a second thought over his future.
Galaxy on the other hand is feeling distraught over GU’s constant communication with the player, and are also aggrieved that the Nikholas Zakhem powered team wants to prize away their asset. Ditsile’s contract does not expire until June of 2022.
The situation is not yet explosive but it is believed to have gotten under Ditsile’s skin and it is threatening to turn ugly. Ditsile apparently is the best thing ever to happen to Galaxy and to leave them at this point will surely be a great loss that could take some time for the club to recover.
However, GU is busy making their move for their long-time target and the enterprising midfielder is said to be determined to complete the transfer before the season begins. It is said the player wants to play football without hustles, which Galaxy cannot promise at the present moment, and the allure of GU will certainly prove too much to stay from.
The team led and directed by Zakhem is reported to have promised ‘Tally’ a mouth-watering contract should he voluntarily terminate. It is however noted that GU cannot risk buying the player who is still on a running contract.
It is believed that Ditsile recognises GU as one of the country’s leading clubs, capable of competing for the grandest prizes. In the event of joining GU, Ditsile would have fulfilled his dream of playing for a rich paying club.
He has enjoyed his years at Galaxy, where he is feted by the supporters, but feels that the time is right to move on. It is impossible to dispute the value and service that he has given to the club, with last season being his best.
The fan-favourite, who has had an on and off relationship with the national team, is still held by the terms of his contract while discussions between his agent are continuing behind closed doors.
Those close to developments mention that Ditsile is yet to be shocked by the stubborn position held by the Galaxy; but the club will surely hate losing such a prized possession to their fiercest rivals.
The Galaxy management has a reputation of being tough negotiators but for Ditsile, the offer from GU is one that should be impossible to refuse.On the other hand, GU are mindful of the tactics often displayed by Botswana players.
They have a tendency of bargaining through rival clubs so as to increase salary or force the management to act swiftly.
The absence of women national league in the country has caused anxiety and alarm at Botswana Football Association (BFA) secretariat. PIC: Soccer Laduma
This is the case because the inaugural COSAFA women champions’ league is about to kick start and BFA is expected to send the name of the team that will represent the country.
As things stand, the association is caught between a rock and a hard place because they are unable to determine the deserving team. The reality facing the association is because its women nation-wide league has never been played since the first corona virus case was registered in March of 2020.
However, the association has devised a plan and a model to opt for a team that will participate in the tournament to be held between November and December of this year. The play offs are expected to commence in August.
BFA has therefore called for an expression of interest from clubs to select the most deserving team.The expression of interest, according to BFA, should cover the club’s financial viability and ability to honour its games (both home and away) without fail. According to findings, the club will need a minimum of P100 00 to play a telling role.
It is therefore highly unlikely that BFA will find a women’s team enjoying such financial freedom. In any case, the association will be forced to offer financial assistance.Township Rollers, Mexican girls and Double Action are the few teams that can possibly be selected, but a huge question mark hangs over their financial disposition.
One other thing needed through the expression of interest is the current books of accounts which will definitely show that the club has been operating. BFA is of the view that this is important because it will help in showing the financial progression of the team.
“We are very pleased with how these events were organized under very difficult circumstances,” COSAFA General Secretary, Sue Destombes said in a statement.
“We take what we learnt in Nelson Mandela Bay into our planning for 2021. We have a full calendar of tournaments at this stage. We are hopeful we will be able to stage them all, even in these most challenging times.
The highlight must be the introduction of the regional Women’s Champions League, which will be a zonal qualifier for the new CAF Women’s Champions League which is coming later this year,” she further shared.