The fourth day of SAFPU ‘Out of Contract’ camp at Pretoria, Hatfield where coaches has been hard at work preparing the players in both physical and mental status for the upcoming friendly games.
The two week training camp was structured not only to focus on physical fitness but also on mental fitness too through the programs that SAFPU has, that is mental health and HIV programs. The camp took a twist and invited our partners, LifeLine SA, to address and educate players about issues of mental health disorder which includes mental illness, depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, and eating disorders addictive behaviours and also about gender based violence. South Africa’s Gender Based Violence (GBV) rate is the highest in the world and the second pandemic (sic) of which the first being the Corona Virus.
Sun Gardens Hospice focused on HIV/Aids with voluntary testing stations manned by their trained staff to assist players who are keen to know their status. The talk also highlighted responsible sexual health. “At the end of the day, these are men, not just footballers. If we could change a mindset, educate or offer help that will change their lives – then we are protecting and defending the rights of players. It goes further than the green grass grounds where football happens,” Thulaganyo Gaoshubelwe SAFPU’s President.
Players also used the sacred circle created to share their own hardships when it came to unemployment and finding the pressure mounting on expectations of them as providers. Covid -19 does not do justice also to footballers. Harold Ndlovu, former Goalkeeper of Polokwane City FC shared from the heart, “I was supposed to sign for a new club. It was then that I lost my mother and my world crumbled. I could not focus. It felt like I was losing everything, my job, my life, my popularity, but I survived without turning to drugs and alcohol. Remember to remain grounded. Make the right choices or turn to SAFPU which can best advice you when the going gets tougher.”