THE FUTRE OF OUR SPORTS MEN AND WOMEN
Kojo Addae Mensah
Posted on: Fri Jul 20, 2012
During the past week, I saw a story in the dailies about Emmanuel Quarshie who was being flown out to Egypt for treatment courtesy Zamelek football club.
It got me thinking very deep again. A few months ago, I was part of a discussion on Accra’s Happy FM when Charles Osei-Asibey and his team picked up the issue of ex footballers and their standard of living after their playing careers.
Some of the footballers interviewed saw the positive side of the story and contributed sensibly to the topic but others were so upset they almost used unpalatable words on air. After all that hullabaloo, the issue died down quietly and life was going on as normal.
Then word started coming out about madam rose Hart whom I heard was on admission at the Ridge hospital in dire need of support. As the Akans say, bebi aa na oda no na enye, to wit, where she was lying was not good.
I think again I saw somewhere in the papers that the sports ministry made some attempts to go and give her some much needed help. I know Madam Rose Hart well; bread and butter matters have prevented me from going to visit her. She may not even remember me but me and a few friends used to have the back of his son in secondary school. Those days I think madam hart was working with the ministry as an athletics coach.
Then the madam rose Hart issue also went away quietly and then Sir Cecil’s matter also popped up and Opare, Prosper and co, worked extremely hard to show some love to the legendary coach and raise some funds while at it to support his medical bills.
I think I also heard (not sure) that the FA also stepped in during Jones’ surgical procedure to support him and thank God the man is recovering quite well.
I have also heard some rumors about D.K poison the boxer who brought Ghana to the limelight in professional boxing and inspired many like the azumahs of this world to take the sport seriously. These are just a few examples of very high profile sportsmen and women whose circumstances have been made public and thus the authorities have been able to come to their aid.
So in my thoughts, I am asking myself, how many ex sportsmen or ex footballers in particular are in a precarious situation and have been completely neglected and no one is coming to their aid.
I know that there is another side of the argument where a banker like me will argue that when great bankers retire and are in a precarious situation, no one goes to their aid and that they are not seen to have done anything for the nation per se like how spots men carry the flag of Ghana when they are doing one sport or the other.
The argument is that in their career they must plan for their future so that after they retire, they will not be found wanting.
In England for example, we all know that the footballers have a properly structured Professional Footballers Association run on the lines of a company with a chief executive and one of the objectives of this association is to ensure that future upkeep of footballers after they have retired.
I know it is this body that supported someone line tony Adams when he was in crisis as well as George best, otherwise their situations would have been worse. This body has advised players and ensured that they are not found wanting after they have retired.
These days, players and sportsmen are earning far more than used to happen in the 70s and 80s and so it is even more important that players see it wise and positive to join such an association and have their monies professionally invested so that they can reap the benefits after they retire.
The counter argument I have for those who think we should not care about the sportsmen as they chop big big during their career is that for a banker like me, I could be lucky to work till I am 60 years old or even in the modern times, at least up to 50 years old. No footballer will be active beyond 45 and for outfield players, even less. After that they have even more years ahead of them to live than they have already lived and so it is important that they are properly managed.
The issue however that I think we have in Ghana is a lack of knowledge and understanding of most of the players. I will not mention names but I have had the opportunity to attempt to manage and advise a few Ghanaian players but I was shocked at how, they viewed me with so much suspicion that they just walked away.
Today, one of them is still playing and I hope he is investing wisely for the future. So I believe this is the reason why Tony Baffoe and Augustine Arhinful and a few others formed the Ghana version of the PFA to attempt to bring the players together and secure their future.
I am not sure how well this is working and I would wish and hope that it is working very well and that the players are joining while they are active and investing wisely for their future.
This thing about heeey this man is sick or heeey this woman is broke must stop. It is not sustainable to keep going to the aid of ex sportsmen and women when they are in crisis and we must find some structured consistent way of helping them. At a minimum, they must be somehow ‘forced’ to pay some of social security or pension into some investment vehicle that they can draw on after say 10 years of contribution assuming they will have a minimum of 10 years in their carrier.
So as soon as one is 17 and playing, and earning something, a percentage can start going into that fund. So that by 40, one would have contributed long enough to draw some form of a pension. The other important point at least for the current crop is for them to also educate themselves with some other skill, like take a degree or learn some form of a trade so that they can pick that up after their playing career.
Teaching would be a fantastic one for example such that after your playing or sports career, one can go and teach sports medicine, sports administration or even at the worst, be a physical Education teacher in the many schools that are springing up.
Then you can impart your knowledge to the kids that are coming up. If the likes of Osei Kofi and Kwame Ayew were not fluent and educated, how would they have been able to be in the pulpit to preach?
So education is very fundamental to their future but I recognize that not all of them can be educated and that is why they must be in a PFA like organized group to cater for their future.
If I bring the situation closer home to Kotoko, I shudder to think of how many ex Kotoko footballers are in a precarious situation and no one knows about them. WE need to give them advise now while they are active so they can secure their future because it will be sad to see today’s heroes in crisis 20 years from now virtually begging for alms and support, just to live.
Let us not let that happen to them.
I remain your true red fabulous aficionado.
Kotoko Beku Me.
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