Editorial Comment: Address alcoholism, drug abuse among athletes

A SURGE in cases of alcoholism and drug abuse/peddling involving top athletes is a step backwards.

It’s sad as we look up to these sports personalities as role models and ambassadors.

Whatever is driving them to lose focus by engaging in such activities, remains a cause for concern.

As a nation, we can’t afford to continue witnessing talent going down the drain due to alcoholism and drug abuse.

Despite the various campaigns meant to eradicate this cancer, we still have top athletes being caught off side.

Alcoholism and drug abuse have resulted in the careers of top athletes ending prematurely.

 This shocking trend should not be allowed to continue happening.

We don’t want this cancer to hinder progress in Zimbabwe, a conveyor belt for talented soccer stars.

Sadly, these cases are prevalent among top athletes plying their trade in Castle Lager Premier Soccer League.

So dire is the situation that some of the athletes being caught in this web are role models out there.

This shows we still have a long way to go as we continue losing raw talent to alcoholism.

Some of these top athletes caught offside have represented the country at national level while others have had their careers end prematurely.

There are some who have been jailed for drug dealing, an indication there could be more bad apples yet to be arrested.

Last month we carried the story of former Ngezi and Sudanese soccer giants Al Hilal player, Last Jesi who found himself battling drug abuse.

His then coach at Bulawayo Chiefs, Lizwe Sweswe, felt the talented midfielder desperately needed rehabilitation to fight the demons.

There is some positive news because Green Fuel have taken him on board and in Rodwell Dhlakama he has a coach who knows how to handle troubled players.

This gives us hope that Jesi will be helped. We should not forget the role that Sweswe also played to try and help him.

We have had the case of former CAPS United and Harare City captain Moses Muchenje who had to undergo rehabilitation.

Another ex-Harare City player, Jerry Chipangura, also found himself in trouble over drugs.

He ended up being jailed for trading in drugs and he has now joined Yadah FC with the hope of reviving his career.

He claims to have reformed and those who run Yadah FC say they are seeing change in him.

That is refreshing and welcome news.

As role models, our players should lead by example and keep focused to avoid these demons.

Local soccer chiefs, managers and former players should come on board and intensify such campaigns.

Athletes fighting these demons should be rehabilitated.

Drug abuse and alcoholism should be avoided since it ends up with addiction and this could cripple the careers of players.

This free advice we are giving also applies to athletes in other sporting disciplines.

Rehabilitation is the best solution in fighting drug and substance abuse but athletes need to be responsible.

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