Saturday, October 31, 2020

Footballers need pension net from which to score

“Time and unforeseen circumstances befall us all,” so warns the Bible’s ‘convener,’ often referred to as King Solomon in his famed Ecclesiastes.

For athletes at the peak of their sporting careers, this timeless warning sometimes goes unheeded.

‘What happens to athletes when ‘time and unforeseen circumstances’ force them to bow out?

This question has been uppermost on the Kgatleng Regional Football Association (KRFA) Chairperson Alec Fela Monyake as he watches coronavirus ravage local sport.

Monyake recently posted on his Facebook account saying “Covid-19 had me thinking, Botswana Footballers Pension Fund Scheme.” 

In an interview with Sunday Standard sports, Monyake said this thought crossed his mind as he observed sufferings of former players whose careers were cut short by accidents. 

“My observation is that most of our players never have a plan to fall back on when their careers come to an end. Football is a very short career and it can be easily cut short by injuries,” he said.

In Botswana, cases of athletes living in poverty after THE curtain come down on their career, either due to injuries or old age are nothing new.

Former Zebras Mosimanegape Ramoshibidu will surely be the quickest to come to mind for many local football followers. 

The former Zebras defender was left wheelchair bound after being involved in a serious car accident. 

Following the accident, Ramoshibidu went home and is now scraping through life, with no source of income or a career to fall back on.

Monyake notes that as football administrators they now need to put player’s welfare at the top of their priorities.

According to the KRFA chairperson, this will attract investors and increase trust and confidence in football among the general public. 

“Our players also need to be taught financial literacy. This will help them to plan to have something to fall back on after their football careers come to an end,” he said.

Monyake, who is one of the administrators seeking election into the BFA National Executive Committee (NEC) says the association needs to think of creating a pension fund for players.

“The BFA is currently working on transformation of the elite league and their teams and they should also look into this,” he said.

Like all BFA structures, Monyake says the creation of a pension fund can only be spearheaded by the NEC. 

“The NEC should plan and come up with policies that will regulate the said pension funds,” Monyake notes.

He says with the mentorship, guidance and inspiration of the current BFA president, the pension fund scheme will go a long way in securing the future of professional players. 

“Basically, the pension fund scheme will give our players more reasons to work hard and go out there to do their level best. It will improve the quality of football in our country,” Monyake said.

He observes that coming up with such an initiative will be nothing new in football as it is available in Belgium and fully successful. 

The KRFA chairperson says such ideas should be welcome under the current BFA president’s tenure as he is a successful businessman seeking what may be of benefit to our football. 

“Such a scheme will provide valuable benefits for registered contract players and their dependents during their playing career and after they leave or retire,” he opined.

He says under the scheme, some monies will be deducted from players’ monthly salaries and put in the pension scheme.

“Those chosen to look into the funds will also look at other investments opportunities that the players can join to help multiply one’s savings,” Monyake opined.

In addition, Monyake notes that there are professionals in Botswana who can help preserve the future of the players through such a scheme. 

He says that the people he approached with the idea believe it is a noble gesture that would bring improvement to the football fraternity.

“This is an initiative that we need to look at and implement for the benefit of our players. It however needs to be thoroughly researched to see if it is within our means to explore so that all stakeholders involved can be able to be part of it,” Monyake concludes.

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