Ray Bande Senior Reporter
Attaining sound education is not a priority for most sports persons, footballers in particular.
Perhaps the hefty sign-on fees, monthly salaries and weekly bonuses are all the players are worried about.
But given that most players retire after turning 30, life after their careers on the field of play has not been rosy for most former players.
Germany-based former Warriors’ star, George Mbwando, recently highlighted that clubs are not obliged to take care of their former players as they are struggling to keep their operations viable.
Mbwando’s sentiments were meant to encourage the present crop of players to “make hay while the sun shines”.
He noted with concern that every time an former footballer dies, there is always an outcry that his former club(s) would have neglected him.
However, it has always been the norm, even in international football, that most footballers earn handsomely and spend extravagantly.
Some observers argue that the lavish lifestyles are bankrupting players.
Critics say healthy financial habits and decisions are vital to break the chain that always see former players struggling to make ends meet.
Educationists also argue that education is a good fall back plan for retired footballers.
Manicaland has a fair share of great former players who were mindful of the need to get a sound education.
Sakubva-born former Young Warriors’ goalkeeper, Nelson Bandura, is one such players.
The footballer pursued his studies well before retirement and attained a Business Management degree through a South African university. Arguably the best goalkeeper Mutare has ever produced, Bandura is now based in South Africa.
Revered legal practitioner and former Chikanga-Dangamvura legislator, Arnold Tsunga, is also a role model to many players after leaving a mark while playing in the country’s top-flight league for the star-studded Tanganda Football Club and later Mutare United while practising as a lawyer.
Tsunga is now Africa Director for International Commission of Jurists as well as Technical and Strategy Advisor for a non-governmental organisation.
Former Manica Patriots and Zupco Mutare shot stopper, Blessing ‘Jah B’ Mutsaka, who had a short football career before pursuing his studies, is now a proud holder of an Agricultural Economics bachelor’s degree as well as a Masters Degree in Development Studies.
Mutsaka, who sponsors Mutare’s most successful junior football tournament — the Mai Hondo tournament — is now an international development consultant who has worked in several East and Southern African countries. He spoke about the importance of education.
“Education helps players to make good life choices during and after their playing days. Decisions in signing and negotiating favourable contracts, choosing teams and investments, all require an educated player.
“After their playing careers, players can get second careers through education. These second careers can be aligned to their particular sport or can be in completely different fields. For example, one can become a sports analyst or administrator, or venture into accounting or any other field.
“Masvingo United star, Jonhson Zimbabe, is now a full time water engineer with an international NGO. Nesbert Zvakare and Lloyd Hlahla are now teachers. That is commendable because they will never lack.
“In the Mai Hondo Tournament that we sponsor, some of our prizes include school fees vouchers and sometimes school equipment.
“In Zimbabwe’s context, education is even more important for the players because sport does not pay very well so you can not save much during your playing days,” said Mutsaka.