Cole Alexander has urged fans to develop a sense of empathy while judging the decisions and actions of players, considering the massive expectations to excel at every stage.
South African footballer Cole Alexander has urged fans to develop a sense of empathy while judging the decisions and actions of players, considering the massive expectations to excel at every stage. The pressure piled often results in their mental health deteriorating to an alarming extent. Alexander who represents Indian Super League (ISL) side Odisha FC shared his own example, highlighting how his life and emotions were completely dependent on success as a footballer at one stage. However, the same has changed with the player adopting a far more wholesome approach.
“It is very important for players to be healthy mentally. If we consider recent statistics, then a lot of them highlight the fact that sportspersons tend to get depressed after the conclusion of their respective careers. It is necessary for fans and the masses to remember that footballers are human beings at the end of the day. We are not superheroes, with the same struggle and challenges as any average human. At the same time, our identity is much more than being a player. When we retire from the game, we will not be known as footballers. That should not have an impact on overall happiness. Football is a part of our existence but not everything. I am a footballer, but I am also an uncle, a son, a father, a Christian at the same time. Investment behind mental health should be given the importance it deserves,” he says in an exclusive interaction with Sportsumo.
Alexander further highlighted the day when he realised that football was not everything, as the turning point.
“Till a certain point of time, the game was how I assessed myself as an individual, with a major impact on my self-worth as well. If I had a good day on the pitch, then I was the best guy to be around. A poor performance resulted in me being nasty and not very friendly. However, one day I decided that football was just a part of my existence and not everything in my life. Failures and poor performances are a part and parcel of the journey of a footballer. However, letting them affect my emotions and happiness is not the right approach. My faith in who I am and the almighty cannot be taken away from me. That is where I derive my happiness from,” the footballer added.
Alexander discussed the importance of football in his life, sharing the reason behind his decision to become a professional player.
“My father introduced me to the game. He really loved football. The game united the whole family under one roof, which inspired me a lot. At the same time, being a footballer provided an opportunity to make the family and community proud,” he concluded.
Odisha FC will look to make their presence felt in the upcoming edition of the popular league. The club recently introduced the ‘Odisha FC Digital Grassroots Academy’. This will be a unique program that will help young footballers improve their skills and be educated on the fundamentals of the sport.