Booth: Crucial for players to empower themselves
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PASSION alone is not enough.
Those were the sentiments of retired footballer Matthew Booth who’s of the notion that former footballers without the required qualifications cannot be allocated into administrative positions in the mother body or national teams merely because they’ve played at the highest level.
Rewind to three years ago, former Bafana Bafana defender Lucas Radebe opened up about his interest to run for the South African Football Association (Safa) presidency which was held by Danny Jordaan.
However, Radebe’s aspiration proved to be futile as the association’s electoral code was clear that “candidates should have at least worked for five years within the Safa structures”, while Radebe, on the other hand, had only been part of the technical team.
Granted that Jordaan kept his position unopposed, considering that former top referee Ace Ncobo also withdrew from the presidential race on the morning of the electoral congress, there are still sentiments that former footballers should be involved in the day-to-day running of the association.
Leading to the biennial Africa Cup of Nations last year, former coach Stuart Baxter roped in 1996 Afcon winner Mark Fish as one of his right-hand men alongside his then assistant Molefi Ntseki, who is now the current chief-in-command.
Fish’s appointment was met with mixed emotions. Booth, meanwhile, hasn’t shied away from suggesting that ex-pros shouldn’t be spoon fed into securing top positions because they’ve played the game but they should, instead, empower themselves adequately with on and off the field knowledge.
“For Bafana to improve, we need educated and intelligent players. Like when you talk to most coaches, they want a player that is intelligent on and off the field. We can then put (former) footballers in positions of power,” Booth explained.
“But let’s be honest, the authorities out of their own will they’ll not bring in a Lucas Radebe or Mark Fish. There must be someone within the association that wants to mentor a Lucas Radebe or Mark Fish. We are not ready to go straight into administration. We need to have mentorship and unfortunately there is not enough will to do that.”
Given that Booth played professionally for over two decades, which included a stint in the Russian Premiership, his football knowledge is vast, hence his appointment as one of the pundits for a pay-TV channel is unquestionable.
Despite that on-field experience, Booth felt that it was not enough registering and completing a degree in political science via distance learning at Unisa. Had he been wiser early in his career, Booth suggests that he’d have done a lot more to ensure that he’s still well off after retirement.
“I started to study after I retired and my wife started to work. Things still worked out for me but I think players should empower themselves while they are still playing,” Booth explained.
“Let’s be honest, when you retire, most journalists and corporates forget about you. It’s important for players to network while they are still playing.”
Through the experience of seeing former footballers falling in the pit hole of bankruptcy when they retire because of a negligent spending spree and having nothing to fall back on, education and savings wise, Booth, with retired stars Brian Baloyi and Stanton Fredericks launched the ‘South Africa Football Legends’ initiative where they address issues mostly pertaining to retirement.