Thursday, November 1, 2012

Calling all football players to stop dying poor

When it comes to football and money, there is one guy I knew as having drowned on the street and died, but some say he had liver cirrhosis. There is also the argument that he was a finer footballer than Pele, who played alongside him in the 1958 and 1962 Fifa World Cup. This was one Garrincha, who killed his mother-in-law while drunk-driving and ran over a toddler with a car, but the point is, that is how he spent his money and lost his life.

Pele himself, always fighting for the spotlight with Diego Maradona was once bankrupt in the mid-1970, leading him to come out of retirement after he had left Santos, to go to the USA where he played alongside Jomo Sono and Kaizer Motaung. Of course, all know about Maradona's woes of financial mismanagement.

England's George Best and Paul Gasgoine are the other popular members of that club of players who earned so much and had nothing to show for it. Recently, John Carew of West Ham, Lee Henrie formerly of Aston Villa and Stoke, and John Arne Riise formerly of Liverpool were declared bankrupt.

This is not to say that African players must feel good because other high profile professionals share the same irresponsibilities. Obafemi Martins of Nigeria however had his problems ranging from careless expenditure to just ineptitude as at many times he could not even produce original documents of contracts signed.

The issue here is not just carelessness or ineptitude. It is known that these players at minimum make over $20 000 per week, a huge sum by any standards. If you look at Samuel Eto'o and Didier Drogba, that is a pittance, but these guys are not immune to the syndrome. Neither can one say that these high profile players naive and stupid. I know of players who have PhD in football.

Some of the footballers are unfortunate victims of bad investments. Personally, I went through the same path in 2007 and 2008. The property boom period presented excellent opportunities that I could not resist. I sat with 4 properties which were not patronised as the 'holidayers' were too broke to book the apartments. Interest rates sored and paying back the banks, the levies, utilities and upkeep was impossible.

With that, something had to give in and I turned in to return the properties, but it was impossible as banks were not giving anyone any mortgage bonds and even those who wanted to buy, could not afford. There was one way to come out of it, the way I want to teach football players who want to live debt-free and be money-wise.

Many other former players who wrecked in loads of cash were just purely careless in gambling, tax evasion, extravagance and pure stupidity. Others were even offered financial management services, which they failed to pay for. A few can be innocent victims, but many orchestrated their downfall by drugs and bad habits.

Players of this day and age and with all the examples to see, of footballers and other sports people and even movie stars like Wesley Snipes and Jean Claude van Damme, still foolishly fall into the same trap and there is no need for it. Amateur players from African countries think they have no choice because they earn less.

Every one thinks their lives would be easier if they earned millions. It is never how much you make. It is the relationship between the man and the money. This is the lesson that I am trying to give to the new generation of African footballers. Life after football must never be a nightmare. It must be the best years. One of Mpumelelo Dzowa's favourite example of this, is the cartoon of Mohammad Ali sitting all alone at the corner of a boxing ring with a line ''What happens when the cheering stops.'' That point of dejection is real but unnecessary.

I was quoted in other parts of the media blaming illiteracy for the players who die paupers. Naturally, our parents never allowed us to play football and when we did, it was behind their backs. School suffered as we sacrificed books for the game. For others, the game suffered as we pursued academic excellence. At this point in time, as a way of supporting each other, the necessity end exploitation and self-destruction has 'mandatorily' arrived.

What do I mean? The young African players mistrust systems that help them. Few have agents and even fewer agents that care. Simphiwe Tshabalala of Kaizer Chiefs sings praises of the man who handles his affairs. Shabba now owns a franchise chain of a fast food Fish and Chips. Not many can claim to bother so much about a youngster from the ghetto. They are not obliged to.

Having talked to a few players recently, I am sure this can be a project that many will cherish for life. Only if players can get in touch and discussions take place, then less and less players will leave football and be forgotten. Not just because the corporate world will pity them and give them favours and donations as we often see nowadays, but because they worked for the money, knew what to do with it and made sure it took care of them in the twilight years.

As for players agents and financial managers, as we work with some of the best, players have to come along, hear what can be done, and discus what they want. The priority is to know how to relate to the money they work so hard for. This is besides the investment vehicles they may decide to embark on individually. As said before, it is not how much one makes, but what they do with what they 'make' with that money and this will amaze many people.  

End of careers and injuries must never be a nightmare. Some players claim they have good investments and financial plans going. Most will be good ones and well-meaning and it will not be necessary to change, but things may change after we talk.

(Football players are encouraged to INBOX me on Facebook (Tse Ndex) or on skype (tsendex) so we can arrange either meetings or conference calls. I have since greatly stabilised my situation without getting rid of any of my properties and having financial flexibilty and muscle. Not so long ago, I could have gone the same way, but I  wonder how my life could be, if I did what I am doing now. It is one proof that it is never too late to work on financial freedom and independence.)