Bernard Parker reveals why PSL stars are turning to drugs – ‘It can take a toll on one’s financial and mental health’

The TS Galaxy attacker explained why substance abuse has become commonplace among his peers

Former Kaizer Chiefs attacker Bernard Parker has explained how footballers are increasingly turning to substance abuse to deal with the societal pressures and cyberbullying subjected to them.

The TS Galaxy forward has teamed up with Clinix Health Group to act as a source of inspiration for youth in Mamelodi, east of Pretoria against substance abuse with community members expressing concerns about the growing number of young people who are using drugs and are involved in crime.

Parker used the opportunity to share how players are also struggling with drugs which they have turned to, to cope with the financial responsibilities and online abuses subjected to them.

“I truly appreciate this campaign for driving a message that seeks to showcase how youth involvement in sport has both positive and negative associations to substance use and addiction,” said Parker.  

‘You will get affected by the insults and negative commentary’

“With so many social pressures and personal responsibilities that come with one’s success as a footballer with access to a lot of money as well as sudden fame, it can be so easy for one to lose focus and get derailed. This can also have adverse effects to your mental health.

“This can take a toll on one’s financial and mental health, which sometimes leads to substance use as a coping mechanism.

“We [footballers] also encounter a lot of cyberbullying from football fans which affects us negatively, especially on the field of play. You can have the most solid and positive mindset, but in the end, you are still human, and you will get affected by the insults and negative commentary,” added Parker.

Cyberbullying in the PSL has led to a drop in performance levels

Lots of players in the PSL have been victims of cyberbullying which has affected their mental health, leading to a drop in their performance levels, but it is a problem that is far from being solved.

Parker hopes talking about it and having initiatives like the ones he is engaged in with Clinix Health Group can help address the issue by making fans aware of the effects of their actions on the players.

According to reports by doctors, clinical associates and social workers from the University of Pretoria (UP), over the past few years there has been a steady increase in harmful drug use in the City of Tshwane.

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Joel Oliver

Joel Oliver is a seasoned multimedia sports journalist with a rich background in covering diverse football stories and events in South Africa and beyond.

His extensive coverage spans subjects touching on the PSL, with a focus on the Big Three (Orlando Pirates, Kaizer Chiefs & Mamelodi Sundowns), Bafana Bafana and Banyana Banyana.