Ex-Orlando Pirates captain Mhlongo reveals he nearly joined politics to be advisor to Sports Minister

The 39-year-old mentor feels a lot still needs to be done to ensure that footballers can sustain themselves after retirement

Former Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns captain Benson Mhlongo has revealed he nearly dumped football for politics just to be an advisor to South African Minister of Sports Nathi Mthethwa.

Mhlongo, who currently coaches ABC Motsepe League side Mbombela City Lads, said his intention when that thought crossed his mind was to advise Mthethwa and his ministry to introduce investment policies and financial advise as part of their programmes to footballers in the country.  

According to the former Bafana Bafana defender, part of the reason PSL players can’t sustain themselves after retirement is because the government hasn’t done anything to intervene. 

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“I nearly joined the EFF just to be on the political side to see if I can’t one day be an advisor to Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa‚” said Mhlongo in an interview with Power FM. 

“I believe that can be changed by our government in terms of our labour laws.

“Government needs to be told that this is not about football only. It is affecting our own kids and our own people.”

The Alexandra-born legend believes the coronavirus situation facing the world has taught everyone that anything is possible if there’s an effort to change the current trend, adding that South Africa cannot follow what Europe is doing in terms of taking care of their own.  

“So, Covid-19 has taught us that we can change things if we really want to. We can’t keep following trends from overseas,” added Mhlongo. 

“Those guys are ahead of us. Their game has been developed in most areas from decades ago.

“So, we are still behind in comparison to those player agents and managers who are running the clubs.”

One of Mhlongo suggestions to eradicate poverty for footballers after retirement is that players should only take home 60 per cent of their salaries while the other 40 should be used as an investment for when they hang up their boots. 

“Make it a must and say, ‘during your playing days‚ you can only earn 60% of your salary and 40% must be invested’,” he continued.

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“Look‚ there is UIF and footballers don’t have that. So, something can be done.

“They can either have a policy for athletes and your 40% can be put there and then after you have retired, there’s money that you are going to get every month as a retirement fund.

“We don’t have that. So, only our government can do that. I believe it should be discussed and be a topic that everybody engages on.” 

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