Fallen football heroes…from riches to rags

While many athletes in various sporting disciplines have benefited hugely from their god-given talents – the same cannot be said about retired footballers whose sorry state of affairs is a serious cause for concern.

Many former footballers in Namibia are struggling to keep hunger at bay with a significant chunk not even knowing where their next meal is going to come from.

Arguably the most followed and adored pastime among locals, football is regarded by many as a religion and held in high esteem.

World-acclaimed footballers are among the highest earners in global sports – and the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Wayne Rooney, Neymar, Yaya Toure and many others rank among the best paid athletes in the stinking rich world of sports.

Back home on Namibian soil, Frank Fredericks, Jacques Burger, Agnes Samaria, Colin Benjamin, Stigga Ketjijere, Toetsie Kambatuku, Munee Tjiueza, Ronnie Kanalelo, Maggy Mengo, Albert Tjihero, Dan Craven, Tjiuee Uanivi, Paulus “the Hitman” Moses, Nestor Tobias, Dean Willemse, Congo Hindjou, Lazarus Kaimbi, Henrico Botes, Rudolf Bester, Wacca Kazombiaze and Ruben Indongo are among those who have benefited immensely from their involvement in sports.

The aforementioned athletes are just some among the beneficiaries of sports-related tangible or intangible assets.

However, the plight of dozens of former footballers leaves quite a lot to be desired. Surely this particular scenario needs to be interrogated with the full might it deserves so dearly through a lengthy dialogue with the ultimate aim of finding a workable solution.

It’s a well-documented secret that unlike in the modern game, former athletes are the hardest hit because there were no incentives during their playing days.

Although football is a relatively short career, it provides a large chunk of employment for youths but the majority of retired footballers are unfortunately left to fend for themselves upon retirement.

Just a few years ago, they were riding the crest of the wave and worshipped by many, but as soon as their playing days were numbered the quicker their fame faded into obscurity.

To worsen matters, many athletes are dying as paupers in the absence of death benefits such as burial cover, medical aid or life cover insurance should athletes suffer career-ending injuries.

A thorough research by New Era Weekend Sport reveals a few interesting tales on how athletes can avoid falling victims of society.

In sporting disciplines such as rugby and cricket, athletes form businesses by putting their hard-earned participating takings and win bonuses into one pot.

“What we normally do is invest the money we earned from sport into starting collective business ventures and once the business has grown, yielding some rewards, we go our separate ways,” says a top rugby player who humbly requested for his identity to be withheld.

Another well-to-do athlete says although there are few gains in monetary terms, there are many ways to kill the cat.
“In the case of footballers, they should combine their earnings and plough that money back into business ventures such as the lucrative taxi business. Profits accumulated from that can be used to buy more taxis, whereupon everybody would be in a position to own their own taxis if well managed.”

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