Whilst it has been scientifically proven without an iota of doubt that teamsport, such as the beautiful game of football is one of the most significant tools to teach us about accountability, dedication and leadership, amongst many other traits – hordes of local athletes are still found wanting in that aspect.
A growing body of research literature finds that in addition to improved physical health, sport plays a primarily positive role in youth development, including the improvement of academic results, higher self-esteem, less behavioural problems and much better psycho-social focus.
The mere participation in sport has the potential to produce a variety of socio-economic benefits. This week New Era Weekend Sport takes a closer look at local athletes and how they spend their money and expertise gained from sports.
Truth be told, young children involved in sports are less likely to engage in drug abuse or to smoke and thus risk their health, because they easily realise the impact these destructive activities can have upon their performance, while adolescent girls who play sports are less likely to fall pregnant.
Sport inadvertently assists people to develop discipline and learn to set goals and subsequently work towards achieving those goals.
Statistics reveal that boys and girls who are involved in sports while in high school are more likely to experience academic success and graduate from high school. The legendary Frank Fredericks and Agnes Samaria are two cases in point.
In the modern game, there have been murmurs of discontent over the sorry state of retired athletes, decrying the fate of young men and women, who were worshipped as local heroes and role models during their blossoming sporting careers.
As recently as last year, the Namibian senior football team, the Brave Warriors, won the regional COSAFA Cup, a victory that united Namibians from all walks of life. The Namibian government responded in the most dignified fashion by honouring the cult heroes with a handsome N$1.2 million to be shared amongst all the squad members on duty during the marathon COSAFA Cup in South Africa.
The players received N$50 000 each on top of N$35 000 from the Namibia Football Association (NFA), accompanied by pro-rata win bonuses, camping fees and daily inconvenience allowances.
Now the fundamental question on many people’s lips is: how did the chief recipients of these monies utilise their share?
African Stars’ long-serving fullback Dennis Ngueza-Tjetjinda – christened ‘Dennis Law’, by the author after the former Manchester United and Manchester City legend – is a man on a serious mission.
The overlapping tough tackling fullback has set a good example on sound financial management by investing his rewards wisely.
While his peers bought an array of luxurious goods, including branded juvies and state-of-the-art mobile phones and shining hoenders (watches) and sere ratoes (nice shoes) with a large chunk spent on entertaining motjies – Dennis had different ideas.
He turned his hard-earned moolah into business in the shape of a nil-star tavern by the name of D-Entertainment, holed up at Single Quarters in the heart of the kassie, as well as a few head of cattle and a second-hand 2006 A4 Audi sedan.
The 31-year-old defender is certainly living his dream and is amongst very few athletes who understand the importance and definition of tapping into tangible and intangible assets.
Although he has been a regular starter in the Katutura glamour football club’s red, white and blue strip, the soft-spoken and calculating fullback has been a pillar of strength in the Reds rearguard, winning a fair share of silverware, including three league titles with his boyhood team.
“Football is a very short and unpredictable career, notably here in Namibia. Most of us are playing the game for the love of it, because the money footballers earn in this country is peanuts and certainly not sufficient enough to sustain you upon your retirement,” he chuckles.
With a significant number of retired footballers struggling to keep hunger at bay, Dennis says he has seen enough and has absolutely no intention of following that route. “It’s indeed a very sad tale and heartbreaking to see former footballers roaming aimlessly and stumbling around the streets as hobos.
“These are blokes many people looked up to as role models during their heyday, but as soon as their playing days came to an end their admirers deserted them.”
Dennis is one of very few active footballers who holds a full-time eight to five job. “Look, I can’t depend entirely on football. I’m obliged to work in order to supplement my meager income from football, while in the process I must put some money away for the day when I can longer financially depend on football.”
The dominant view is that athletes must learn to refrain from aimlessly living the good life and start planning for the future, while still at the pinnacle of their flourishing sporting careers. Dennis is living proof of this philosophy.
There are two components to financial self-sustainability that athletes must seriously consider before retirement. Firstly, acquire tangible assets through proper education. Secondly, maximise fame and turn it into intangible assets to acquire valuable skills in other non-academic fields.