‘Footballers should prepare for life after career’

Shelly Guni

Fame and fortune are the key aspects which epitomise modern day professional football.

While the influx of money poured into the game has undoubtedly benefitted football, giving many of those who do go on to make the cut a true rag to riches story, there is always an ugly side which rears its ugly head when excessive sums of money are thrown into the mix.

Recklessness, greed and destitution are only some of the words which come to mind when seeing footballers who once were regarded as being in the upper echelons of society, now down on their knees wondering where their next meal will come from.

This is particularly apparent in the Zimbabwe context, where players who do not only have the responsibility of looking after themselves but may also have extended families to tend to financially have that extra burden to carry around.

That isn’t to say though, that there aren’t wealthy local footballers, as the likes of former Dynamos legends Edward Sadomba, Desmond Maringwa  to mention just a few has shown, destitution is certainly not the only answer.

There are a number of Zimbabwean soccer players who plied their trade outside the country but came back pale shadows of their former selves, with nothing to show for their exploits across the borders.

Renowned local football analyst Martin Changachirere believes the footballer’s popularity and earnings do not go hand in glove.

“The remunerations and bonus perks are very low comparing with our regional counterparts,” Changachirere told Review & Mail Sport.

“This is worsened by the fact that footballers in most instances rely on one source of income without really establishing other revenue streams.

“They are then bound to struggle as they also lack the requisite academic preparation to venture into the formal job market or venture into viable projects to sustain themselves,” he said.

Changachirere also believes local players do not value the importance of being under a fully-fledged manager of sort.

“This leaves them vulnerable in terms of contract negotiations when joining clubs and even when seeking personal endorsements.

“They end up settling for less of what they are worthy. These financial leakages will then come to haunt them after their playing careers are over,” he said.

There are a number of football players whom after their playing careers find it difficult to make ends meet.

“One of the feasible investment local players can make is enhancing the quality of education one has in preparation for the future.

“I will give examples of current Trojan Coach Tonderai Chinodakufa, Gabriel Nyoni and Makwinji Soma Phiri.

“It helps in enabling players to make sound decisions about their career path and earnings.”

“Given a choice I would encourage players to take stands and other immovable property like houses as sign on fees in preparation of the future.

“This means someone will have something to fall back on at the end of their playing careers. Cars and a party lifestyle have always proven to be a poverty trap to many footballers.

“Starting small businesses is another way to go as you tap in into your popularity to enhance earnings during your active playing days.”

It is also important to note that although a football player’s career might be considered lucrative, considering how short a football player’s lifespan is, the money is not necessarily sustainable and will in all likelihood run out at some time during their life, unless they have invested wisely.

“The environment is rather tricky for us to be discussing investment considering the remuneration packages on offer.

“So you would find the signing on fee presents the biggest pay cheque to footballers to do something meaningful investment wise.

“However, this again applies to a few clubs like the Platinum sponsored side, Dynamos and Highlanders of late.

“The signing on fee has also been becoming less effective in that regard because of the new wave where players sign 1-year deals.

“This means a player gets less as his/her signing on fee compared to signing three-years or more.

He said lack of personal endorsements deals for players meant players literally lived from hand to mouth leaving nothing for investment.

“So basically our local landscape is more of a poisoned chalice for us to be talking about one investing into the future,” he said.

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