By Karien Jonckheere
Top league soccer players know that fame and the fortune can arrive as suddenly as an unexpected goal. And, can disappear as quickly as a player missing a penalty. Yet many are unprepared for the years when their skill can no longer earn them a living.
One such player whose story famously hit the headlines a couple of years ago was former Leeds United star Phil Masinga who went from living the high life to moving back to his late mother’s house in Khuma township outside Klerksdorp, and selling all his memorabilia and other goods to make ends meet.
“I made some very bad investments because of a lack of financial knowledge,” admitted Masinga. “It is something I had to go through for me to learn what I am learning now. Some people are fortunate to get financial skills through studies or careers.
“I had to acquire mine through the ‘university of life.”
President of the South African Football Players Union (SAFPU) Hareipha ‘Simba’ Marumo last year claimed that up to 70 percent of retired players are living in poverty, thanks to an array of social issues such as a lack of education and, often, alcohol abuse.
But Masinga said: “Not all decisions I made were bad. Take the one I made to purchase the house I’m now living in (bought during my playing days) for example. ‘Rock bottom’ as people put it is a good solid foundation. From there, the only way is up.”
Explaining how he’s managed to start climbing his way up, the Bafana Bafana striker added: “I’ve had to accept that I need to start all over again from scratch and rebuild my life. I am very much involved in my finances now and nothing is taken lightly. I am working on a few projects including being a shareholder and director at a leading North West based insurance firm. Because I am still passionate about soccer, I also work with SAB, identifying talented future soccer stars as well as being a VP of the South African Masters and Legends Football Association, an affiliate member of SAFA.”
Masinga’s afvice to players is that financial skills are very important. It is never too late to learn and to start all over again. Don’t be bitter about bad experiences, accept them and learn from them.
“I am no way close to where I was before financially but I am comfortable and the future looks bright.”
According to Marumo, many players who dazzled and inspired millions are now mocked and ridiculed because they are broke and no alternative skills to make a livelihood.
Former Kaizer Chiefs and Bafana Bafana star Marks Maponyane said: “You’ve got to always make sure you don’t leave yourself in the situation where your next question is: ‘So, where to from here?’ ”
Maponyane’s career ended before the era of big bucks, but is one of few who seamlessly transitioned to life beyond soccer.
Many local players don’t get formal training in financial management, but things are changing at Mamelodi Sundowns. Chairman Patrice Motsepe offering guidance to his players.
Explaining how he achieved this, the prolific striker said: “More than anything, I would never be in a situation where I was just sitting there and looking at myself as a footballer because more often than not I was working. I was always working for more than two or three companies, so doing more than one job. That made a big difference because it created a sense of responsibility more than a sense of admiration where you admire yourself for achieving.”
Maponyane explained that his sense of values, work ethic and financial nous came from a strict upbringing, with a “no-nonsense” father.
While players didn’t receive any formal training in terms of financial management in his day, things are starting to change with Mamelodi Sundowns Chairman Patrice Motsepe offering guidance to his players, urging them to invest wisely.
Joe Latakgomo, senior communications and marketing manager at Mamelodi Sundowns said: “At the beginning of the year and mid-year as part of team preparation, we have workshops on financial well-being and management to ensure that post their careers, players don’t fall on hard times.”
Players also have access to personal financial advisers made available by the club.
* This article is part of a series produced to support the HEARTLINES Values & Money campaign to encourage South Africans to think about how they earn, spend, save, borrow and give away their money.
This article was first published in Sunday World on 16 February 2014.