Tinotenda Nyanzira, Sports Reporter
BLACK Rhinos midfielder Gift Saunyama says local footballers should take this lockdown as a life lesson after they retire on football.
This comes after the lockdown has affected many players’ welfare as they mostly depend on wages, bonuses and allowances.
The former Dynamos player took to Facebook with a post meant to address the current situation.
“Let’s wake up boiz rangu life after football is real we all miss football a lot. We miss the feeling that comes with competing.
“Football gives many of us an escape from of our all problems a feeling of utopia. However, the Coronavirus pandemic has taken all that away. Instead, it has presented a lot of challenges for footballers in general- but especially local players in particular.
“There are lessons players need to draw from this current phase- we owe it to ourselves. For the local player, if we do not, it would be the classic case of shooting ourselves in the foot,” he said.
The local league was supposed to start three months ago and he reflected that it’s an eye opener for them as footballers on how life will be like if they do not plan their future now.
“If there is any lesson that players should take from the last few months, it is the hint of what life post football would be like- lots of time on our hands but not enough resources.
“We have learnt this first hand now for a local footballer, it’s almost nigh impossible to save some money as one’s earnings are never enough to make ends meet. This is the sad reality of an average professional footballer in Zimbabwe.
“This then means that most of the players who spend vast amounts of their playing careers locally, will most likely find themselves struggling by the time they decide to retire from the game. That is the reality, and plight of the local footballer,” said Saunyama.
He said footballers need all the help they can get from their team administrators and from the football governing body to attend workshops that will help them to plan their futures.
“Whilst I may not have the perfect solution to the challenges faced by the average footballer locally, I feel the first step involves being candid and accept we need some form of help. As a fellow professional, “I have attended workshops organized by the Footballers Union of Zimbabwe- FUZ, where I learnt many useful things that I believe added to my skillset.
“I cannot stress enough the importance of life planning in a career that is capped.
“Whilst not all players will play for the company backed teams- which are the most paying and most stable locally- those playing for the traditional giants such as Dynamos, Caps United or Highlanders can also make the most of the platforms that these teams present.
“Without doubt, these teams no longer pay competitively, nor do they offer certainty or guarantees as far as wages and bonuses are concerned- especially in comparison to the company backed teams.
“However, there are advantages associated with playing for those clubs- as a consequence of the following and interest they generate. Many people are willing to help. For example, whilst I was at Dynamos, I was fortunate to be offered an opportunity to study with the Chartered Institute of Customer Relationship Management free of charge by Dr. Khosi.
“I understand, however, that mine is not the classic case of the average footballer- as I got my College degree from the National University of Science and Technology just as I was turning professional.
“So for another, it doesn’t have to be an opportunity to study- it could be a job opportunity after retirement or a business opportunity,” he said.
“My clarion call to fellow local players is let’s plan our lives post football now- whilst we still generate some income, and whilst we receive this level of attention and interest.
“If we learnt nothing from those who played the game before us, let us draw lessons from these last few months. Footballers are role models, and how we manage the opportunities our careers present to us during and after football should inspire the next generation of footballers.
“It should inspire young people to take up sport as a career that is viable- even if they are to spend their entire career locally. They should be aware that whilst the returns from the local game are not good enough at the moment- football (sometimes football only) also presents you with opportunities to pursue other worthwhile ventures.
“Equally, I plead with team administrators to try their level best to honor their obligations to contracted players and demonstrate some level of care for the local player.
“For the local game to grow further and progress- it will still need all of its stakeholders- including the most important one- the footballer. Professionalism will take the local game forward- and lack of it will do the opposite.”