Kenya: It's Sad to See Players Suffer in Retirement

It is very shocking seeing most of our former footballers die with nothing to their names after years earning a fortune though their talents.

Many former stars have died in debt, leaving their families with practically nothing after making poor investment choices.

Days ago, it took the intervention of President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime minister Raila Odinga for hospital bills of celebrated rugby coach Benjamin Ayimba to be paid.

The kind gesture towards Ayimba comes a few years after President Kenyatta and Odinga bailed out legendary Kenyan footballer the late Joe Kadenge.

Former AFC Leopards captain Martin Imbalambala is among prominent local footballers who have made a passionate plea for medical help.

But Francis Kadenge, Jared Adams, Henry Omondi, Sammy Simiyu and Sebastian Andulu, among other players, were not as lucky after retiring from active football. They died poor.

Imbalambal partially lost his eyesight in 2018 and underwent treatment, but his treatment has stopped due to lack of adequate funds.

At the moment, former Sofapaka player Wisdom Naya is unable to meet the cost of his medication.

He was signed by Sofapaka after starring in the Copa-Cola secondary school championships two years ago, but the Kenyan Premier League club dropped him months later in unclear circumstances.

It has emerged that the youngster had been diagnosed with cancer and needed a couple of chemotherapy session at a cost of Sh55,000.

He couldn't afford the cost of treatment, and well-wishers have stepped in to help. But Naya is not alone. Kenyan football administrators should work with players to find a solution.

Unlike in Europe, South America, Asia and other parts of Africa, footballers are not among the best paid workers in Kenya.

The peanuts they earn is nowhere near enough to sustain them and their families, leave alone taking care of medical needs. But our football administrators seem hardly bothered by cases of players wasting away after suffering injury at their clubs or with the national team.

Footballers themselves must invest the little they get instead of spending it on expensive lifestyle, drugs and alcohol.

Politicians too, could do better by passing laws that improve the welfare of athletes instead of giving handouts once in a while.

Do you ever wonder what became of the AFC Leopards Saving and Credit Co-operative Society launched in colorful ceremony in 2018?

With the remittance for members at Sh500, 000, the Sacco was aiming to secure medical cover for players and club legends to help them when the need arises. The Sacco's chairperson, Maurice Osundwa, said it was meant to give current and former players as well as fans the opportunity to save, borrow and invest money.

The club's legends led by the late Kadenge and political leaders supported the initiative. Devolution CS, Eugene Wamalwa donated Sh1 million as seed money for the initiative. What became of the Sacco?

jashihundu@ke.nationmedia.com

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