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ASHIHUNDU: Players need to be smart to succeed after their retirement

Sunday July 12 2020
NSL_PIX

Vihiga United midfielder Martin Imbalambala (left) tussles for the ball with Wazito FC's Joseph Waithira during their National Super League match on March 29, 2017 at Camp Toyoyo ground. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |

By JOHN ASHIHUNDU

All the players have family to look after when they retire from playing football. But what structures do AFC Leopards have to enable our former players earn a living after hanging up their boots?

I was shocked with the recently highlighted plight of our former captain, Martin Imbalambala, after he raised appeal to well-wishers to come to his rescue.

The Vihiga High School alumnus, who also played for other local clubs, has been going through financial difficulties after losing his eyesight, partially, in 2018.

Kudos to those who paid visits, including Macleans Foundation who have since started paying his medical bills at Sabatia Eye Clinic in Vihiga County.

The non-governmental organisation too secured a one-year National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) cover for the former international, apart from giving him food and doing his shopping.

Vihiga County Government officials also visited and promised to support the defender who played for Vihiga United FC before he developed eyesight complications.

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Many Kenyan footballers have retired to misery due to lack of financial management skills, but those who combined academics and football well have settled and cannot complain.

In Kenya, most of our sports is amateur leaving many highly talented sportsmen reduced to beggars.

All is not lost for Imbalambala and he is not alone. Sadly, current structures in Kenyan football have the potential to turn highly gifted sportsmen into beggars upon retirement.

For our players to make it in life, they need to look up to the success stories. 

There are those who used football as a stepping stone into politics, like the current Transport Chief Administrative Secretary Chris Obure who played for Gor Mahia and the national team, and Omboko Milemba, the Emuhaya MP who turned out for the defunct MoW FC of Kakamega.

Some, like the late Job Omino, played and went on to manage the game effectively.

We also have Joe Masiga, Dan Shikanda and William Obwaka who pursued careers in medicine and are now successful doctors, while others like David Olima own private medical facilities and are doing just fine.

Among the supporters of AFC Leopards we have men who are ready to make this a reality.

Former official Walter Onyino is one of the best bankers, former rugby boss Richard Omwela is a respected international manager and J.J. Masiga can provide psychosocial support to the fragile minds in the current Ingwe team. Omwela made our rugby players like Collins Injera to quickly turn into household names.

Our footballers earned very little from football in the 80s and 90s but are today successful in life after rising from their lowest job ranks to become millionaires while others have died with nothing except photos showing their moments.

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