Kings admin manipulated the players
Kings admin manipulated the playersSHARE
Whitehead opens up about his time at the Kings from the ninth minute!
During his time at the Port Elizabeth-based Union – between 2014 and 2015, senior administrators played on the players' emotions to such an extent that they – the players – were unable to feed their families and were at risk to losing their homes.
"I'm from P.E. [Port Elizabeth] and I wanted to give it a full go and try to resurrect the Union. I know there was huge plans, they promised us a lot of big things with sponsorships and for the first year, it was okay. It was a building phase, we had Carlos Spencer as our head coach and he was also really great to work with.
"The toughest part was when the payment issues happened. The thing with the Kings is that there is a lot of talent coming through there. The black rugby community in the Eastern Cape is thriving and if we can harness and build that, we can go crazy in the future. Thembelani Bholi, Lizo Gqoboka, Tim Agaba, those guys all came out of there and they just showed this last year how well they can do.
"The thing with the Kings is there is a lot of young talent coming through. Guys hadn't played at other Unions, they weren't experienced, they didn't know what was right and wrong. They didn't know how we were supposed to be treated as players.
"You aren't getting paid 10 days after the month, and you getting promised that it is coming and that there is a R200-million sponsor that has landed in the bank account. Then you have other leaders in the management group stepping up and saying that they have seen the money in the account, there are just a few red flags – people believed that.
"So the problem comes in when you can't feed your family and you eating rice three times a day for the last seven days of the month and then you are still expected to perform. Then your cars are being threatened to be repossessed and guys can't afford their rent, so it all adds up and adds stress to the players and the guys didn't know how to handle it," Whitehead said.
It was that stress and empty promises that ultimately led to him walking away from the Union.
"We could only step out [leave the Union] after they defaulted after 10 days beyond the 30th or the 31st [of the month] because then they are in breach [of contract]. So when it happened again, I decided I'm out, it cannot carry on like this.
"Then a few of the other guys gave me a call to ask what they should do – Lizo, Tim, Luther Obi – those young guys and I told them that if they have offers somewhere else, they should go.
"But they were too inexperienced to understand what to do and they were getting manipulated into believing that this was normal. What I didn't enjoy was how we weren't really protected from any legal aspect, we had to go to our own guys. There was always a problem.
"It was hard, it was a tough time and I think that is where I lost the enjoyment of the game. I realised that you have to look out for yourself, otherwise you will never be successful.
"In saying that, I chose the Kings over other Unions and I will never go back on that decision," Whitehead said.
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