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Komphela talks about the ‘hypocrisy’ in dealing with mental health issues

Moroka Swallows coach Steve Komphela has explained why he believes there is ‘hypocrisy’ when it comes to players’ mental health problems in South Africa.

Komphela was asked what his stance was on mental health issues following the revelations by English club Burnley FC Lyle Foster.

Burnley FC announced that it Bafana Bafana the striker has taken an indefinite break from football to deal with his mental issues. The problem of mental health is also not foreign to local football players, but it is rarely talked about.

Komphela says that football is not immune to the social challenges that all human beings face and that addressing the problems faced by players should be no different either.

“I find it extremely hypocritical. It is hypocritical to advocate for mental health in general. We are quite aware of mental health issues in general, in society and communities,” said Komphela.

“As we say, football is only a microscopic reflection of society. If and when society has a certain problem, football will experience that problem.

Steve Komphela at the opening of the Carling Knockout Cup
Bafana Bafana and Burnley striker Lyle Foster


“So when society is experiencing mental health issues through anything, the whole world is going through mental health issues. Do we now think that football does not have (mental problems)? football has.

“Then the hypocrisy I’m talking about is the one where I’m a coach at Swallows, I know there are mental problems in society. When I had mental health problems at my club, I decided to treat that player differently, that’s hypocrisy,” he explained.

Komphela also highlighted differences in the way mental health issues are treated among players in SA football.

“That is my primary responsibility as a person who is alert and aware of mental health issues in society. To be responsible enough and to have an understanding of the mental health issues in oneself.”

The former Kaizer Chiefs coach added: “If I have a player who gives me problems as a coach, he gives problems to the clubs and then I decide or choose to say, let him go, that’s hypocrisy.

“After we released the player because he has his own problems, because we always say that this is a professional environment, we don’t look after children and all that. Okay, are you telling me that society needs to adopt the same strategy of saying we don’t have time for mentally challenged people here? No man,” he added.

“We just need to find a way to give them tools and mechanisms to deal with these problems. They vary, they are different.

“But the biggest of them, I think the advantage for the athletes is that they are physically involved. Physical exercise is a great remedy for any problem that is mental or spiritual because you keep working on the body.”

RELATED STORY: Lyle Foster is taking a break from football due to mental health concerns

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