Banyana Banyana psychologist: Mental health can affect player performance

FILE - Forward Lyle Foster in action for Bafana Bafana. Photo: Phill Magakoe/AFP

FILE - Forward Lyle Foster in action for Bafana Bafana. Photo: Phill Magakoe/AFP

Published Apr 5, 2024


As the demands on professional football players continues to rise, Banyana Banyana psychologist Dr Koketjo Tsebe said that mental health can significantly affect the performance of players.

In an interview with IOL Sport, Tsebe shed light on how mental health can affect the player's performances on and off the field of play.

“Mental health issues can affect the athlete's performance in various ways, for instance, it can affect their ability to be attentive and to concentrate,” Tsebe said.

“It can affect their ability to become team players and to feel motivated, but to also be confident. Let's say for instance, an athlete is suffering from depression, it also affects the cognitive abilities and your concentration and you become forgetful.”

The topic of mental health again took centre stage last year when Burnley and Bafana Bafana striker Lyle Foster asked not to be included in the final Bafana Bafana team that would travel to the recently completed African Cup of Nations in Cote d’Ivore, as he was battling with his mental health.

Tsebe also added that while strides have been made in addressing mental health issues in South African sports, there was still some stigma attached to the topic.

“There is still a stigma around mental health and it is informed by different things such as a lack of information, misconceptions, and lack of understanding.

“Also, people have different views around mental health, but mostly, its put as an afterthought discipline and not as a primary discipline.”

Former Golden Arrows coach Mabhuti Khanyeza made headlines in December of 2023 after the Howick-born mentor dismissed the need for sports psychologists in football.

Revealing that there was a need for more education around mental health in South Africa, Tsebe believes that there needs to be a collaborative effort in order to raise more awareness.


“There needs to be an association between frequent conversations around mental health and implementation. It’s one thing to speak about it when there is a breaking story around an athlete who is speaking about mental health, and then we run with it, but that’s not implementation.

“So we still need collaboration between the media, which has been playing a role in advocating for mental, and sports teams, because they cover different topics around mental health,” she concluded.

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IOL Sports