Local athletes have in recent years failed to acclimatize to the diverse cultures and living conditions in other countries, especially far off into Africa.
A few weeks ago, the Senior Women’s National team striker, Refilwe Tholakele and Kesegofetse Mochawe returned back home from Malabo Kings in Equatorial Guinea where the pair recently signed.
Not only them but several other athletes in the past have failed to acclimatize in different countries, Volleyball players, Thapelo Kamberuka, Tshiamo Chakalisa and Gaoleseletse Gasekgoner returned from Rwanda, following their struggle to align with the foreign conditions as speculations insisted.
Some few years ago, footballer, Onkabetse Makgantai returned from AS Vita Club in DRC as well as Mothusi Cooper, who had a short stint in Algeria. Despite that, there are few succesfull ones like Tumisang Orebonye who have stayed in Algeria for a long period of time.
In an interview this week, Sport Psychologist at the University of Botswana, Dr Tshepang Tshube says according to research, athletes need at least two years to settle in a foreign country.
“It takes about two years for athletes to fully transition into a new culture; first you have to deal with food which is different from your usual, while at it there is also a need to focus on their performance and in addition to food
there are other aspects like language, relationships and the environment.”
Furthermore, he said athletes perform best when they are in an environment they are familiar with than in a foreign land hence athletes in developed countries like USA are given the best psychologists to help them adjust.
On the other hand, he says athletes need to have a holistic support services and be briefed on what to expect. “Botswana is a middle income country and sometimes athletes move to low income countries and things which are considered basic here might not be basic there, so it might prove difficult for athletes to transition.”
This probably explains why succesfull stays have been in the similar conditions in the neighbouring South Africa or top class conditions over seas, like in the USA, where they combine sports and academics.
Tshube stressed that the country doesn’t have enough trained sport psychologists to prepare athletes for the reality they face when they move abroad. “We need counseling paychologists, clinical psychologists and all the expertise including the athlete career services so that guidance is provided on athletes career paths.”
Moreover, he says that local athletes also need to have the endurance and physical demands of partaking in different leagues and competitions across the country.