A les­son hits home in the Mokotjo saga

CityPress - - Sport - S’Bu­siso Mse­leku sm­se­leku@city­press.co.za Fol­low me on Twit­ter @Sbu_Mse­leku

The saga that played it­self out this en­tire week must serve as a life les­son for South African mid­fielder Kamo­h­elo Mokotjo.

The 26-year-old hogged the head­lines for the du­ra­tion of Bafana Bafana’s time in Dur­ban, where they were pre­par­ing for yes­ter­day’s friendly match against Guinea Bis­sau and Tues­day’s en­gage­ment with An­gola in East Lon­don.

But no! It was not for flashy skills, shi­bo­bos or tsamayas that he per­formed at the train­ing grounds – it was for an in­ci­dent in which he seems to have shot him­self in the foot by tak­ing up Dutch ci­ti­zen­ship in De­cem­ber and de­nounc­ing his South African birthright.

The big­gest les­son from this whole chron­i­cle is con­tained in one of the daily mo­ti­va­tional ad­vi­sory warn­ings usu­ally posted on so­cial­me­dia plat­forms. It goes: “Never make a per­ma­nent de­ci­sion based on a tem­po­ral sit­u­a­tion.”

Another good piece of ad­vice is that one must shy away from mak­ing de­ci­sions while still an­gry be­cause, most of the time, they tend to be ir­ra­tional as they are emo­tional.

You see, Mokotjo, a vastly ta­lented 26-year-old who was born in the town of Oden­daal­srus in the Free State and stands 1.7m tall, had a huge fall­out with former Bafana Bafana men­tor Shakes Mashaba.

He then vowed not to don a Bafana jersey “as long as Mashaba is still the coach”.

He went on a tirade, say­ing: “He clearly has a prob­lem with me ... He se­lected me just to si­lence the crit­ics. Ev­ery­one wants me to play.

“I am one of the high­est-rated play­ers in South Africa, but he con­tin­ues to treat me [like this]. And then he also has a big mouth in the me­dia. Am I still avail­able for the na­tional team? I’ll have to think about it...”

Mokotjo fol­lowed his tirade by de­nounc­ing his South African ci­ti­zen­ship.

There could be many rea­sons for his ac­tion. One that emerged this week was that he wanted to en­hance his chances of play­ing in a top Euro­pean league – Hol­land is a mem­ber of the Euro­pean Union, so he would not be treated as a for­eigner in many coun­tries on that con­ti­nent.

But the source of the en­tire move was the tiff with Mashaba.

Most peo­ple, yours truly in­cluded, at the time sym­pa­thised with Mokotjo and be­lieved Mashaba had failed to act as a fa­ther fig­ure and be the big­ger man in the sit­u­a­tion.

So it is then that the Ere­di­visie side FC Twente player spent the en­tire week try­ing to fix his self­in­flicted dam­age.

There was a lot of back and forth be­tween him, the SA Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion and the de­part­ment of home af­fairs to try to reis­sue him with South African ci­ti­zen­ship.

It would be folly to think that this did not af­fect his prepa­ra­tions for the job at hand.

He even had to pen a mo­ti­va­tion as to why the coun­try should take him back. Much like the Prodi­gal Son in the Bi­ble.

I know that most of the time when such boo­boos hap­pen, ad­vis­ers who are busi­ness man­agers and the play­ers’ rep­re­sen­ta­tives get blamed, but play­ers should also take re­spon­si­bil­ity for their ac­tions.

We have seen quite a num­ber of young peo­ple make de­ci­sions that have had a hugely neg­a­tive ef­fect on their ca­reers and lives.

In the midst of Mokotjo’s beef with Mashaba, he should have borne in mind the wise words by one John Fitzger­ald Kennedy, who opined that we must not al­ways ask what our coun­try can do for us, but in­stead ask what we can do for our coun­try.

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