Saturday, December 3, 2022

Of Patriotism and Personal aggrandizement

Following Dipsy Selolwane and Mogogi Gabonamong’s indefinite retirement from the Zebras duties, and also the imbroglio of this year’s edition of the Coca Cola Cup, football authorities should take this as a wake-up call. As a matter of fact, it has long been coming. CHRIS LEPENGA warns the football association against evading the tough but not rough tackle in issues of national interest.

While local athletes who represent the country in various sporting codes are expected to be patriotic and put their bodies were it hurts for the sake of the nation, personal upliftment cannot be relegated to the pavements, under no certain terms.

Clearly, athletes have in mind their personal development. Logically, this should be primary to patriotism, especially in this world of acute shortage of employment.

Logically, the associations are charged, inter alia, with the duties of seeing to it that their prot├®g├®s do not find themselves in exploitation books, all in the name of “dying for the nation- What they normally call ‘The loco parentis concept.”

The furore concerning two Zebras players ÔÇôDipsy Selolwane and Mogogi Gabonamong’s indefinite retirement from national team activities should not be taken for granted. It is on the plain that people view the two players’ behaviour as unreasonable. Unreasonable? Oh no! The two players are in the professional ranks. It is through football that they are able to put food on the table.

I now understand why Jack De Villiers said in his philosophy Journal;
“Exploitation breeds unpatriotic ends,” pp 12.

The players’ jobs at Cape Town Santos are just like a job of a Chef in one of the hotels or a Sales Rep. in one of the retail shops. To make the professional football job even more awkward is the fact that they have game-based bonuses. They have win and draw bonuses. To miss out on such for the purposes of patriotism is tantamount to self betrayal to say the least.

Have people forgotten that football is a very short career. One who is in the profession must make money whilst his legs are still energetic or in a rather sarcastic manner, while he is still in the coach’s good books.

A most severe scenario is when the said professional player gets a career ending injury while on national duty. Who will take care of his life whilst he contributes nothing to them?

There is the case of Botswana’s, former FC Satmos and National Under.17 international, the late Stoney Ogotseng (May his soul rest in peace). He got a serious injury that put paid his ambitions of making something out of football. He sustained this injury whilst on national duty. Up to the time that he met his untimely death, nothing was done by the football association to help him.

It was up to the poor boy’s parents to see what to do.

For the record, Dipsy and Mogogi are not being unreasonable. They demanded P8 000 signing on fees, and by contemporary standards, this is meager. The players are aware of the state of affairs back home, which is why they ask for such a meager amount.

By the same vein, if the BFA feels that the amount is magnificent, the players have not closed the chapter. They must be ready for further negotiations. For the Association to simply say “no”, without making a concerted attempt to negotiate with the players boggles minds.

Does the association think the rest of the Zebras brigade are not affected by this? Certainly they are. It is only that “players are not the same in terms of quality and other cognitive qualities.” This is why the likes of Dipsy and Gabonamong are playing professional football.

Coach Colwyn Rowe must have been shell-shocked by the BFA decision of not moving a step ahead with the negotiations. He comes from England where professionalism is supposed to be the order of the day. I am sure he doesn’t blame the players for being hotheads for, if he does, that will be hypocrisy at its best. He should know better anyway.

To say Dipsy and Mogogi have lost the appetite and hunger to play for the Zebras will be a non-starter. The players have sacrificed a lot for the nation and they still want to sacrifice more. They recently featured in a non-FIFA sanctioned COSAFA Castle Cup semi-final against Zambia whilst Zambian players playing in the selfsame South Africa league chose to stay with their clubs. (Did we see the likes of James Chamanga, Christopher Katongo or Isaac Chansa in the Zambian colours in the COSAFA semis?).

The nation certainly still needs the input of Mogogi and Dipsy to the national team.

Again, this just reflects on the character of the people running our football. One will be compelled to agree with those who posit that some people are holding the nation to ransom, if not being in their positions for self serving ambitions.
Scenarios like this one, seemingly, will always recur.

Think of the embarrassing build-up to the MedRescue first division south Playoffs. People seem to be devoid of that decisive sense of anticipation. Just like it was the case with the playoffs, no one gave it a thought that BDF XI might validate the registration of Bernard Simakwezi.
Yet they had the temerity and audacity to bar Stan Tshosane’s side from using their prized asset without verification. Did they think BDF XI would sit back despondently?

Who does not know that the selfsame BFA threw out a BMC complaint against the same player based on the same facts of the case. How can they now bar Simakwezi from playing against Rollers if BMC’s complaint was thrown out? Soccer pundits have inferred that there is conflict of interest within the BFA and nothing at this stage seems to prove the contrary.

Why did they allow the semis to proceed basing their decision to bar the player from playing on hearsay?

Worse still, even after BDF XI won their case at the appeals board, they knew of the FIFA stipulations that provide that a club must be notified of any changes in fixtures in not less than 48 hours.

Will FIFA be pleased to learn that an association unwittingly contravenes its written rules to cover for what many see as their inefficiencies? Rollers could mitigate against being blamed for not honouring the replay fixture based on this bold stipulation.

At the time of going to press, Rollers were said to be on the verge of making an urgent application to the High court to stop the finals. Assuming that they in fact did, will FIFA spur the BFA? It has happened before, that associations have been ‘slapped” by FIFA for inefficiency that could lead to an affiliate club being vindicated in court.

And perhaps most importantly, what of the sponsors? Coca Cola will not be happy to splash their hard earned cash on people who seemingly do not have what it takes to propagate a smooth operational route. A question of naively, but with some degree of unconsciousness, scaring sponsors away from the beautiful game.

For the sake of the game of many in this country, a call for shaping up or shipping out is inevitable. People should be on the mend as hitting back at constructive criticism has never helped anyone. Kana tota, if you become constructive criticism proof, it is tantamount to hammering the final nail into your own coffin.


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