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 lambs 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 Masters 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 BFAs long term plan when it comes to players? Without a doubt these players who appear to be in troubled waters should blame the BFAs hit or miss approach when it comes to governing domestic football for the dire straits.
Local sprinter, Letsile Tebogo has been rewarded with a whopping P150 000.00 by Orange Botswana for his heroics at the recently held World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary.
Speaking at a Handover Ceremony for Tebogo, Orange Botswana Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Maano Masisi said, Orange Botswana is steadfast in their commitment to nurturing the youth and promoting sports in diverse ways.
âLetsile stands as a formidable force and an inspiration to young Batswana, showcasing the value of sports not only in Botswana but on an international stage through his remarkable achievements. Orange Botswana, furthermore, desires to cultivate enduring relationships with aspiring young Batswana, much like Letsile, who embody dedication, focus, and excellence in their endeavors. Letsile has already shattered records, etching new milestones for the African continent and beyond,â
Masisi further said the partnership aligns seamlessly with Orange Botswanaâs dedication to acknowledging exceptional individual talent like Tebogo.
âAs previously announced when we started this relationship, our collaboration with yourself entails financial support from Orange Botswana to fuel your journey in competitive sports, alongside your representation as the face of Orange Botswana,â he said.
For his part, Tebogo pleaded with Orange Botswana to extend his contract as it is beneficial to him, âI am thankful to Orange Botswana and I hope they could extent my contract as it has been very helpful.â
Meanwhile, Tebogoâs coach, Kebonyemodisa âDoseâ Mosimanyana was also showered with P10 000.00 for always ensuring that Tebogo is ready to take on the world.
Local athletes, Zibane Ngozi and Letsile Tebogo have confronted Minister of Youth, Gender and Culture, Tumiso Rakgare citing lack of support during preparations.
Speaking at the World Champs team Welcome Ceremony on Wednesday, the 4 x 400m relay specialist and Team Captain, Ngozi urged some of the government officials inclusive of Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) representative, Rakgare to attend these high-profile competitions to witness the hardships they go through during these competitions.
âPeople need to understand it is not easy for us when we arrive at the World stage, there is a lot that is going on hence we need support in order for us to succeed as expected.
However, I am happy that immediately when I arrived in Botswana, BNSC credited our allowances which was a good thing because we had lots of debts (jokingly) thus we manage to settle them,â he said.
On the other hand, Tebogo who brought home two medals (silver and bronze) from 100m and 200m respectively at the World Champs said most athletes are going through depression due unfavorable conditions.
âMost of us going through depression because we lack support during preparations, we are only celebrated when we win but in hard times we are forgotten. Athletics is a difficult sport hence we need all the support we could to make it through and eventually amass medals as it is expected by our country,â
For his part, Rakgare admitted that local sport is faced with challenges, including but not limited to a tough sponsorship environment, limited or no sport in public schools, doping and leadership instability.
âI would of course be surprised if anyone of you would not agree with me that notwithstanding the challenges, we continue to achieve unprecedented results in sport, and the year to date is no exception,â he said.
Rakgare gave special recognition to Oratile Rose Nowe for heroics at the World Champs, âI would like to take this opportunity and congratulate Nowe for attaining a new personal best 2:01.62 in Womenâs 800m, which also happens to be a national record. By the way, Oratile is the first Motswana woman to ever qualify for the World Championships in middle distance running.â
According to Rakgare, Government, recognizes athletesâ achievements at any and every competition, and that is why most recently, they have rewarded them at the Youth and Sport Awards.
âI would like to thank the Government of Botswana for their investment in sport. We continue to pride ourselves in being one of the best funders of sport per capita, and as indicated earlier, we are not intending to slow down anytime soon,â
On a lighter note, World Champs BW Team was rewarded by various companies such as Debswana, Choppies, Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) and also government as a token of appreciation for participating in Hungary.
Tebogo was rewarded with P560 000 from Debswana, Choppies and BPC for bringing two medals home, 4 x 400m men relay finalists (Ngozi, Baboloki Thebe, Laone Ditshetelo and Leungo were given P25 000 apiece for reaching the finals and participating by Debswana; while ladies (Tlhomphang Basele, Golekanye Chikani, Lydia Jele, Oratile Nowe, Galefele Moroko, Obakeng Kamberuka were given P10 000 each for participation.
In addition, the World Champs team amassed P926 000.00 of which P250 000 would go to Tebogo and the remaining P676 000 will be shared amongst the rest of the team.
With several local associations currently going through a rough patch in terms of financial quagmires, Botswana Netball Association (BONA) Public Relations Officer (PRO), Mokeresete Mokeresete is optimistic to host the 2023 Africa Netball Cup as per the request from African Netball Board (Executive Committee) because Uganda has pulled out.
Will it be successful or finally quench the thirst of competing internationally?
The African Netball Championships or Africa Netball Cup are a netball competition held every after two years with teams from across Africa competing for the top price.
BONA National team competed in the last edition of the Africa Netball Cup which was held in 2021 in Namibia and they finished in position seven which was average.
Last time BONA hosted an event of this magnitude was the 2017 Netball Youth World Cup which was indeed a success even though the local team (Dinaletsana) finished in position 10.
One would have thought that the Dinaletsana team which looked promising would eventually go on and conquer the world in the following international competitions. However, that has not been the case as they struggled to qualify for the recent World Cup which was held in the neighboring South Africa.
In addition, the Botswana Netball League was last played in November 2022 and in 2023 they hosted a Fast Five Netball Cup just before the Netball World Cup.
In an interview with WeekendSport this week, BONA Public Relations Officer (PRO) said they have accepted to host the 2023 Africa Netball Cup following the pulling out of Uganda.
âWe have recently accepted a request to the 2023 Africa Netball Cup, however â we are still working on finalizing all the logistics that will be in play as you are aware that hosting an event requires a budget which might be difficult because we were given a smaller potion in the recent financial year.
Furthermore, we are yet to come up with a consolidated budget which could help us map a way forward as we really want to stage this particular competition. It is vital for us to host this competition as we want to revitalize local netball, we want to attract more for the league,â said Mokeresete Mokeresete.
MORE NETBALL ACTION AHEAD?
Mokeresete further hinted that the upcoming Independence Cup will be preparatory tournament for the upcoming Africa Netball Cup.
âWe are going to host the Independence Cup of which we are expected at least 16 ladiesâ teams and a few of maleâ teams as we are still swiftly introducing the male section to the sport in Orapa.
However, prior to the action we are going conduct courses for match officials, technical official and coachesâ beginnersâ level 1 courses as an effort of improve the standards of the sporting code,â hinted Mokeresete.
MISSING THE RECENT NETBALL WORLD CUP WAS CATASTROPHIC
According to BONA PRO, missing the recent Netball World Cup was catastrophic as players missed out on an opportunity to showcase their talents on the world stage which was bound to garner those deals to more professional countries in terms of Netball.
âWe are seeing lots of movement for players from countries like Zimbabwe which is remarkable and that could have happened for our player â but it wasnât to be as we did not qualify for the main event.
Moreover, through the World Cup Legacy Program, we have been awarded a sprung board and we are contention to transport it from South Africa to the country as one of the requirements to host a sporting event is to have a sprung floor,â
Meanwhile, the 2023 Africa Netball Cup is scheduled between November 26 â October 06 2023 at University of Botswana (UB) Indoor Sports Arena.