FOOTBALLERS Union of Zimbabwe (Fuz) has lined up a series of programmes to help develop and capacitate active footballers to prepare them for life after the game.
Thomas Sweswe, Fuz secretary-general, said the Covid-19 pandemic had affected their programme of action that would have seen the organisation running courses for active and retired footballers.
Following fresh calls by ex-Highlanders midfielder Blessing Gumiso for active footballers to plan for life after football and challenging them to seek advice from Fuz, Sweswe said they had already set plans in motion to help their members. “The Covid-19 lockdown has greatly affected plans we had because we had approached Zifa to consider organising coaching, referees and administrative courses for players that might want to take up those avenues when they retire. These are part of Fuz’s initiatives to make sure that we prepare a soft landing for footballers when they retire,” said Sweswe.
Fuz’s monthly membership fee is a mere $50 per month and retired footballers are also free to join the organisation and reap benefits, which include training programmes.
“Look, we always educate footballers about the need to prepare for life after hanging their boots at all outreach workshops we hold. We understand the nature of our footballers, we always invite former players to come and share their experiences as well as advise active footballers because nothing beats experience,” said Sweswe.
Fuz caters for both men and women’s football and encourages footballers from lower division clubs to also join the association.
Gumiso, one of the most decorated players of his generation, who joined Bosso in 1998 from Mutare and went on to win four league titles on the trot under coaches Rahman Gumbo and the late Eddie May, said to avoid misery after hanging their boots, footballers must start planning for their next life while still active.
He applauded Fuz for championing footballers’ interests. Now based in South Africa where he is involved in developmental coaching, Gumiso noted with concern that very few footballers took advice on planning for life after the game seriously.
“Fuz please do your best in educating and mobilising players to the best of your abilities to join your association. Some close their ears when being advised. l was once a footballer and l know you only realise that things have changed when you’re no longer active,” said Gumiso.
“I’m saying so because soccer players don’t look at the bigger picture when still playing. Active players will not play forever. Time will come for you to hang up your soccer boots and that time can come faster than expected through injuries and this will bring sadness to your life. The winning bonuses will stop coming, some handouts from supporters will suddenly stop, camping allowances will stop, travelling allowances will stop, if rent was being paid by your club it will stop, all benefits will stop.
“If you are not well equipped for life after football, you will hate all your past playing days. You will not see the value of all medals you won during your playing days and this will definitely affect your lifestyle and family. That experience can be very scary and most will succumb to that and never rise again,” he said.
Reports of former footballers falling on hard times are well documented and Gumiso wants the present crop of players to avoid falling into the same trap.
Gumiso expressed confidence in the present Fuz leadership led by Desmond Maringwa and has among other former footballers Herbert Dick, Nomsa Moyo and Norman Maroto in its structures.
“l remember growing up we all wished we had an association to stand for players, but it was never there. Now that we have Fuz, which is led by former footballers, this should give all active players a smile and confidence to join since you are being led by people who know the pains of the unexpected in soccer life,” said Gumiso.