CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - AUGUST 31, Matthew Booth from Ajax CT during the Absa Premiership match between Ajax Cape Town and Platinum Stars at Cape Town Stadium on August 31, 2012 in Cape Town, South Africa Photo by Carl Fourie / Gallo Images

THIS is the season to be jolly.

Some people take it a bit too literally though, and end up indulging in the good stuff. And normally, most of us will exit the old year quite a few kilos heavier than what we entered it.

It will be an interesting study topic to see how many people join the gym every January compared to any other month in the year.

There seems to be no guilt like the Tweede Nuwe Jaar guilt – most people are too hungover on New Year’s Day to notice – when you look at yourself in the mirror and realise you can actually name your gut because it has got that big.

I think September and October are also key periods for gym owners, because people want to build those summer bodies. But after a few weeks off the treadmill, their gym card becomes just another ornament in the wallet.

December is that time of year where we over-spend on all things nice. From single malt whiskey to that succulent fillet steak at the Waterfront, we end up blowing our budget out of the water like a lobster jumping out of the ocean and on to your plate.

But spare a thought for those people who aren’t lucky enough to experience all the joys and luxuries of the festive season. There are especially a number of former footballers who have fallen on hard times, and probably don’t know if they are going to be able to enjoy a hearty Christmas lunch.

We all know the story of Pierre Ndaye Mulamba, the Zaire striker who was the top scorer in the 1973 Cup of Nations and fled to South Africa after the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

For a long time, Mulamba, nicknamed the “Assassin”, fell on hard times and lived on the streets of Cape Town and Johannesburg. And there are many more out there like Mulamba because they didn’t plan for life after their “December”, that period when they were “jolly good fellows” on the football pitch.

It’s hard seeing some of this country’s former top footballers struggling to make a living these days. But Ajax Cape Town have tried to change that, and have given their footballers a chance to plan for life after football, life after the festive period.

Twenty-two players and a few members on the management staff were given the opportunity to complete a one-year course in sports management at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

These players and staff, who graduated on Tuesday, also have the option to finish their national diploma or even a degree in sports management during their playing time at Ajax.

There is a lot of money in the South African game these days, but most footballers in this country have not been prepared for what comes with all the attention and fame.

We have seen the likes of Mbulelo Mabizela throw away a career in England, while the likes of Jabu Pule, or Mahlangu, or whatever he calls himself these days, succumb to the pressures of fame and fortune. All of these players have left us thinking to ourselves “what if”.

The Urban Warriors are at least giving their footballers a chance to make a living after they are done kicking a football.

So, before you think about “what if” you didn’t eat that third bowl of dessert, rather think about what you can do to help young and talented footballers stay on the right path, and make them realise there is a life after football.


@travito08 (New Ajax star Travis Graham salutes the fans after their win over Maritzburg): That win was for the fans that still supported us through the tough times we had we salute you guys and that performance goes to you :) AJAX.


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