PALAPYE:Mahalapye Railways Highlanders players have threatened to stay away from the team once the Coronavirus imposed break ends. The threat follows non-payment of salaries for players for the past two months.
This year, the players of the Botswana Railways backed team revealed that they received wages for January and February only. They said no explanations were coming from the “dodgy” team management and life at the outfit in a month before the pandemic break was unbearable.
Club chairperson, Wamorena Maruapula however refuted the players’ claims regarding non-consultations. He said management informed players of the processes of acquiring wage funds and the delays thereof.
Maruapula explained that wages for March would be credited after all the paperwork has been completed. He said for April, issues around the coronavirus pandemic stalled some processes the team was involved in.
“The players would be paid that I can put my head on the block for.
We have always told them that they would be some delays at time such as this one that was due to unforeseen circumstances. But they would certainly get their dues,” the chairperson said.
He also said claims that the team does not take care of players were not true. Maruapula revealed that the team had released all the players before the lockdown. But they are in constant communication to ensure they were hardly affected by the pandemic.
“About two players could not leave and the rest have gone home. The team manager is in constant talks with them to check their well being. If there was anything untoward we would have helped in the best possible ways,” he said.
However, players sing a different tune on the matter to their chairperson. According to some players, that all preferred anonymity for fear of victimisation, life may have appeared all rosy at the club judging by their on-field performances. But the treatment they receive from the team is quite appalling.
Highlanders had pulled massive results with two stalemates from log leaders Jwaneng Galaxy and chasers Township Rollers, and at some point in the league, they have recorded spells of five unbeaten games albeit with a modest squad.
They are the second-best team north of Dibete after Orapa United. The Mahalapye
After a good start to the year with two straight wins in January, February had been a good month with the team losing two games and a draw. It is the same month players last tasted their dues.
Three players interviewed on the threat matter said in the period of wage dry spell they had not even received pocket money to afford toiletries and basic needs.
One player said it was better for the Mahalapye based players that live with their families. “Others are here (Mahalapye), brought by the club and life is unbearable. They even have to hustle to find what to eat before they go for training. Free food comes with games,” the player said.
One player said his contract is coming to an end at the end of this month and he does not see himself returning to the club. Quizzed on how they managed to pull up the good performances despite the negative situation they paint, the player said they figured out how to use the platform to sell their skills.
“I know a number of contracts are ending including mine. We had to fight to sell our skills to other clubs. That is how we managed. I do not see a number of players returning,” the player said, noting that he had found greener pastures elsewhere and has penned a pre-contract.
The other player said at first management told them that delays came about due to the source of funds, being Botswana Railways, the sponsor. When time went by, he said, it became a problem with the management when they inquired about their dues.
“Since we got into the coronavirus the situation is worse, it appears we are bothering them when we call to ask about our salaries. These days they do n’t even take our phone calls. We can’t even inquire about other funds from relief sources,” the player said.