Botswana-based right back Kamohelo Matsabu says his only worry is the welfare of his family.
Foreign players in the neighbouring country have been left in the lurch as government moves to provide relief for sports, but the Township Rollers player says that is not an issue for him. His biggest concern is his family back in the North West.
Botswana’s sport minister Tumiso Rakgare last week announced a relief scheme that will see players in the Premier League each get P2,500 (R3,700) while those in the First Division Leagues will pocket P1,500 (R2,200) each. However, Rakgare said the relief fund does not include foreign players, with clubs tasked with their welfare.
The decision leaves Matsabu and about 50 other foreign players plying their trade in the BTC Premier League in a limbo. Most topflight teams in the neighbouring country are battling to pay salaries and have welcomed the initiative by government.
The former Orbit College FC star insists he wants to return home. His club recently announced a 50% salary cut to avert the coronavirus crisis.
“About being excluded from government funds, I do not have any problem with that, all I can say is now I just want to go home. I am frustrated about everything I really want to go home. They (Rollers) have bought food for us foreigners, but for me what it is paining is that I am eating this side, but I do not know gore my family back home ba ja eng (what are they eating),” Matsabu told Mmegi.
“My only worry is my family back home because I cannot do anything to help them during this lockdown. I wish I was with them now at least to struggle with them than being this far (away).”
Football Union of Botswana (FUB) secretary-general Kgosana Masaseng said their hands were tied on the relief fund but the union has asked the Botswana Football Association (BFA) to extend a helping hand through a loan system to the clubs. He said of the less than 50 foreign players in the league, only half are severely affected by the COVID-19 situation. Others have been paid and assisted as per their contractual agreements with their employers.
“We knew that was going to happen, the government had said that the wage subsidy will benefit locals. We saw it coming, but this is bad for football, we at FUB promote solidarity through the game,” he said.
“We have engaged the BFA (Botswana Football Association) to help the players. We put a proposal that the BFA assists the foreign players in what would be a loan to the clubs and they will recover the monies from the FIFA relief fund, it is the best we can do at the moment.”
Matsabu was once on the radar of several PSL clubs during his time with Orbit College FC in the ABC Motsepe League. He can play on either wing.
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By Mthokozisi Dube