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South African Football Players Union (SAFPU)

Books or Boots?

Selling education is not sexy…

It’s not as sexy as the hottest footballer on the cover of a magazine, as scintillating as a runway during fashion week or as exhilarating as the fastest sports car going full throttle on the race track. Education just does not emulate any of the above – instead everyone tells you that it’s a must but few have made it seem as appealing.

Studying requires commitment, desire, outlook and discipline and the irony you might argue is that all the above is exactly the same qualities needed to succeed to be a footballer which should make it an easy sell… But it’s not…

The analysis has shown that more often than not footballers are worse off when they hang their boots than they were when their careers started and correcting this trend has been challenging to somewhat an extent We have been trying to ensure that our members are future fit! While some can sustain a better life after the final whistle, sadly others struggle and find it extremely challenging after football. We do our best to make education fashionable and change the narrative the best way we know how but in most cases education is not an easy sell because a players’ first love is playing football. So it becomes hard to reason with anything else, it is almost like being in a jealous relationship” but education is a must. Says Nhlanhla Shabalala Secretary General for SAFPU.

We confess that a minority of our members have stood up to be counted and there have been a few success stories of those who have taken education more serious. Some of those have reached out for the assistance offered by SAFPU Bursary Fund and graduated which is very heart warming and gives us the comfort that they have prepared themselves for life after football. We hope this act will inspire more players to make sure that they shape their beyond football future.

Former Amazulu FC Midfielder, Augustine Ramphela knows that there will be a time when he won’t be able to play football. “At some point in my career I’ll have to walk away. I studied in logistics and got myself a Diploma. Football will come to an end, it is sad to say but I’m happy to have furthered my future in this way and through the help of SAFPU,” and he has publicly encouraged his fellow team mates to do the same.

For players who have proven to be studious, they continue seeking and wanting more and it is these players who have applied for a bursary. Taelo Motloung, Deputy Secretary General urges players to grab these opportunities made available because during his heydays, SAFPU did not offer such life changing opportunities. “The game has changed and players have access to so much more and they must seize every opportunity. Retiring when it’s your time or through injury, or when you can’t find a team should not bring your entire life to a halt. Much to the current state of Covid-19 which has brought a lot of uncertainty in our lives we need to redirect our thinking and plan differently because our destiny is in our hands and we must shape our future”.

The success stories are not enough when it comes to players who are hungry to learn.

The bursary fund might not be brimming over with an endless supply of funds but what is there we hoped our members would have long spent it on life beyond boots and balls.

In our 23rd year of existence, 2 years shy of just how old our democracy is, we know what we need to do, and we won’t stop till we’ve made education as fancy as football for our members.

‘An investment in knowledge pays the best interest,” Benjamin Franklin.

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