Namibia: Drugs Add No Value to Life - Bruwer

Ex-brave Warriors goalkeeper Denzyl Bruwer hopes his spectacular fall from grace due to substance abuse will deter the current and future generations from "repeating these mistakes".

His agonising testimony about a never-ending battle against drug addiction formed the backdrop of yesterday's workshop on financial literacy and social behaviour organised by the Namibia Football Players' Union.

Bruwer, along with former teammates Quinton Jacobs and Nafpu president Sylvester 'Lolo' Goraseb, detailed the pitfalls of being a high roller to a group of Brave Gladiators and Brave Warriors players.

"Just a day before I left for trials in South Africa, I stole my brothers laptop and I sold it at one of the drug dealers' houses just for a fix before I left. I managed to have successful trials at Ajax Cape Town. They signed me. Four months into my contract, I started using again and this time, no sleep," Bruwer narrated.

"I got a N$100 000 from my signing-on fee. I remember I got that money on a Friday and by Sunday evening N$30 000 was gone on drugs in Cape Town Long Street," he said.

The former Young Ones, Civics and Wits University goalminder tested positive for a prohibited substance known as methamphetamine, a synthetic drug used as a stimulant.

"When I tested positive for doping, they did not even know what banned substance I was on at first because I was experimenting with so many drugs at once like cocaine and Tik [crystal meth], which is the most dangerous and addictive drug in Cape Town.

"You would go to the lengths of this earth to get that thing once you're hooked on it," he said.

Such was his addiction that it adversely affected his relationship with his loved ones and derailed his playing career altogether.

"It is important as sports people to ask, what am I involving myself in? What am I exposing myself to? What do we do when no one sees us?

"Do not destroy your blessings; the body that God gave you and that talent to make a good living. I destroyed myself," he cautioned.

"After the experience that I had, with drugs especially, I do not want to see another young person go to waste. Whether you're a sports star or not.

"Drugs add no value to your life, they completely destroy you," he said hoarsely.

Bruwer was suspended from football for two years and fined R65 000 at the time. He deeply regrets how a once promising career petered out into oblivion.

"I signed a very lucrative deal with Ajax Cape Town but four months into that contract, I was suspended from football and the contract was terminated. When I came back to Namibia, I had nothing. I had to start from scratch. My face was on the cover of every newspaper because of the wrong choices I made," Bruwer said.

"At that stage of my life, I was no longer interested in football. I went from being a star, to a drug addict and a boemelaar [hobo]. It became so bad that I would sleep on the street or at those houses where they sell drugs," he added.

Bruwer has battled ill-discipline and the vices for nearly two decades, relapsing on multiple occasions after undergoing rehab.

"I have children. I told myself that, if I don't do it for me, then I should do it for them," said the father of nine.

"As a friend and former teammate, it has been very painful to see him go through this. There was a time I had to go to Swakopmund to bail him out of jail and when I took him to his sister's house she wouldn't stop crying," Goraseb said.

"The life of being a star is not easy. The money, adulation and attention everywhere you go. You can lose yourself."

Namfisa representatives also spoke to the players about responsible financial management, as many a star had fallen on hard times once their careers end.

Jacobs and Goraseb weighed in on the subject.

"It gets lonely out there. Your mind plays tricks on you. Our players are not prepared for life far from home," said Jacobs, who had trials with Manchester United in the mid-90s before ending up at Scottish club Partick Thistle.

"We throw our players into the lion's den. They come from modest backgrounds and are suddenly thrust into the limelight abroad where they make good money," Goraseb said. "But as we have witnessed over the years, many do not use that money wisely and when they retire, there's nothing. We need to change that trend and educate our sports people to invest and ensure they live well after they are no longer active," he concluded.

"Workshops like these are a start. We don't need to have formal meetings all the time. This type of advocacy can be done at school and at club level."

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