At some point in everyone’s lives, there was that particular time we dreamt of playing sport professionally but little did we consider just how fragile a profession it is.
Between injury, loss of form and the simple inevitability of ageing, a sport career can end in the blink of an eye, and football is no exception to this alleyway.
Brave Warriors great Collin Benjamin, who is widely regarded as one of Namibia’s most decorated footballers of all time, speaking to New Era Sport yesterday shared monumental pieces of advice on how the current crop of footballers can wisely invest their resources and plan for life after football.
Benjamin, who enjoyed an incredible career spanning over 14 years on German territory with the likes of Hamburger SV, 1860 Munich, TuS Germania Schnelsen and FC Elmshorn in that country’s various top football tiers, said the key to a comfortable retirement for any footballer is educating yourself and making sure you invest your hard-earned money in areas or sectors you have a good understanding of and are close to your heart.
“It may sound like a cliché but my advice is very simple. Save your earnings and invest wisely. By saying that, I mean that while you are actively playing, talk to influential professional people that can help and guide you in areas where you want to invest. You should also do more research and make sure you have a good understanding of things before you invest your money into anything. Also, while are still active, determine what you like, what interests you, what you are good at and acquaint yourself with that subject,” advised Benjamin, who amassed more than 32 caps for the Brave Warriors.
The 41-year old retired midfield genius, who captained the Warriors for several years and went on to represent the country at the 2008 African Cup of Nations (Afcon) in Ghana, also touched on the unavoidable importance of education but was, however, quick to remind the current crop of players that education does not only mean attaining a degree or doctorate, but it also means educating yourself on imperative issues and aspects of life.
“Don’t just sit there and play PlayStation or be on social media the whole day: go out there – meet and talk to influential people that can help you reach your dreams and help secure a future after football. As you are nearing your last days as a footballer, it’s important to start looking at things that interest you and areas where you feel you will do better upon retirement. When I say get an education, I’m not saying all players should have degrees but I’m saying it’s important for players to read, research and constantly look for information that will help propel their long-term dreams after retirement. Again, it’s important to read and do research. Just educate yourself,” emphasised Benjamin, who was until recently assistant coach of the Brave Warriors. A study by the International Federation of Professional Footballers (FifPro), which is the global representative for professional football players, found that half of former professional athletes develop mental wellbeing concerns upon retirement as a result of a sudden sense of “loss” and “regret”.
The research also found that two-fifths of footballers were bankrupt within five years of their retirement and a third had divorced inside a year.