Motlohi fights to combat scourge of social ills
After losing close friends to HIV/ Aids and the fast life that came with fame Charles Motlohi (right) considers himself lucky to still be alive today.
The former Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder believes educating men can help decrease the scourge of social ills.
These days Motlohi works with Footballers for Life to rehabilitate ex-offenders and encourage youth in his community to focus on education and building a life free of violence. “In most cases men are tasked with mapping the way forward for their families and if we help them change their lives we can save kids from drugs and other things the youth are involved in,” said Motlohi.
“I am lucky to be alive. I know what I used to do in my days as a well-known footballer, I am fortunate not to have had HIV as some of my friends (did) and abuse was common in my life, I speak from experience all over.”
The Welkom-based former footballer often condemns gender-based violence and substance abuse on his personal social media pages. He says his experiences in life has helped him seek a better life for himself and teach other men that is it possible to change and be a pillar of the family.
The 48-year-old established Striking 4
Life Change so he could collaborate with the municipality to continue spreading his message of hope and have access to prisons to motivate offenders.
However he is faced with the challenge of waiting for months before he receives funding for his community projects. He would like to pay more visits to inmates and have more outreach programs to help youths by organising sports tournaments in the community.
“After I retired I was struggling to find work and turned to doing community projects, I had also left my wife and kids at the time ...I was struggling living elsewhere. I caused my family a great deal of pain during this time. I went back to my family and asked for forgiveness so I could live with them again. That’s when my fortune changed.”
Before Motlohi turned professional, he owned a number of amateur football clubs and had a dream of owning a professional football club. On the day Phakaaathi spoke to Motlohi the former midfielder had just returned from a local stadium where he facilitates training sessions each day. Youngsters and some retired footballers are invited to train and play football on designated days of the week.
“We get together and train each day. Most of the young people that come here in the morning are those that are done with matric and can’t further their studies because they don’t have money.”
Motlohi applauds the current generation of footballers for their discipline and commitment to their careers compared to how some footballers from his generation went missing from team camps or before big games due to poor social and other bad lifestyle habits.