Football is your job
Whenever I watch an interview of a big Hollywood star and they’re being asked about their careers, I often find it rather patronising when they say they have the best “job” in the world.
In my mind and in the minds of many; acting in films appears fun and we envy these people for being paid ridiculously large amounts of money for having fun.
Along with a host of things I do; I am a radio presenter as well. I remember when former Harambee Stars coach and SuperSport commentator Jacob Ghost Mulee had been doing his radio breakfast show for about a week; he told me something I will never forget. He said: “You mean radio isn’t just turning up to chat; it is actually hard work.” It was just after his four hour show that ends at 10am and his next words were: “I’m exhausted from talking non-stop for four hours.”
Ghost reports to work at 5am in the morning, which means he wakes up at about 4am. The radio industry, just like the film industry, involves keeping the strangest of hours. You work on public holidays and even Christmas Day. That morning Ghost told me: “I have new respect for radio presenters.”
Even today I hear many people say radio just sounds like people chatting and having fun for hours on end. They don’t consider the research that has to go into the job; the fact that you need to stay alert for hours on end; constantly be thinking on your feet and constantly thinking of new ways to stay relevant. It is fun; but it’s also hard work.
If I asked most of you who are reading this blog where football falls in your life; you would tell me that football is a hobby. It’s what you do to relax in the evenings or over the weekend. For some of you it is more than a hobby because you take the scores and transfers and victories more seriously than others. But for the majority of you; it does not earn you your daily bread. You have other jobs.
I have observed in the radio industry what is also happening in the football industry, where people involved begin to forget that what you do is a job and not a hobby.
Jobs have rules and regulations that you must follow; hobbies are a lot more relaxed in terms of commitment.
Somewhere along the line it seems that because most people see football as a hobby, footballers are beginning to treat it as such.
Last week former Gor Mahia striker George “Blackberry” Odhiambo was sent away by Azzam for what the club termed as indiscipline. According to the club, Blackberry had absconded from training without permission for a total of six days. Three of those days were in succession. The club said they saw this as a lack of respect and commitment on the player’s part and dismissed him.
In Blackberry’s defense, he said he was unwell and had sent another player to excuse him from training. The club does not have that information. The odd thing is that three of the six days he missed “work” were not consecutive. So what happened during the other three days?
Incidents of player indiscipline aren’t new or unique to Blackberry. Many players in the KPL as well are known to turn up late for training or not turn up at all; especially when they are aggrieved about something. We saw Pascal Ochieng just disappear from AFC Leopards and re-appear at Simba in Tanzania with half the AFC Leopards technical bench claiming not to know where he was.
Do footballers actually recognise that while their job is a hobby for the rest of us; it’s a job for them? I would not dare fail to turn up for work without letting my boss know where I was and why. If I was completely incapacitated then I would expect my husband to excuse me from my work; but most people who are unwell are at least able to send a text message.
Being a star footballer is glamorous and someone like Blackberry had the world at his feet when he left for Denmark early last year. He had just been crowned player of the 2010 KPL season and he had more admirers than any other player in the league.
Unfortunately in football, as in radio, you are as good as your last game or your last show. Few people remember you beyond the last thing you did and even fewer will sympathise when things go wrong.
The fact that you have such a high profile job often means you need to be more responsible than those with regular jobs. If Joe Blog the accountant misses one day of work; his boss will be upset and his colleagues might talk about it for a few hours; but the country won’t make it a topic for discussion. If Blackberry misses one day of work; everybody knows about it, every football show talks about; it opens up discussions on footballers not taking their jobs seriously and a lot more.
I urge footballers to take what they do as a job. I know that in some cases salaries aren’t always forthcoming, but it’s a choice you have made; to sign for a club and be the best you can be at your job.
We the fans are allowed to take what you do as fun; but you need to give your total commitment or quit.
Blackberry had a soft landing at Mtibwa Sugar in the Tanzanian premier league; a team that finished fourth; right behind Azzam, so it’s not all bad. But I do hope that he; and all the other footballers who think that their job is just a hobby; get serious and realise that this is their life; their source of livelihood.
You may have one of the best jobs in the world; so treat it as such.