Johannesburg - 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 Saturday'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 social-media 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.
Affect his preparations
There could be many reasons for his action. One that emerged a few days ago 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 self-inflicted 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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