Many athletes do not come to stardom all by themselves and often feel the obligation to give back to those who have helped them achieve success
Not long ago in Kenya, sources reported worrying concerns about international Kenyan Rugby player Daniel Adongo.
The player who, in 2013, signed a lucrative deal with Indianapolis Colts was rumoured to be in a cult, into drugs and possibly broke and homeless. This came after the 31-year-old posted videos on his Facebook page in which his hair appeared shabbily kempt and had five huge rings pierced into his nose. His unpleasant appearance sent social media wild.
At home, when Uganda recently laid to rest one of its famous footballers Jimmy Kirunda, his passing ignited a never-ending debate about lack of support and recognition for several unsung sports heroes.
Kirunda, in his glorious days, was an elegant sweeper, best remembered for his brilliant performance during the Africa Cup of Nations, that saw him net a late winning goal against Ethiopia in 1977, which earned Uganda a place in the 1978 finals.
One is tempted to ask where the problem is. Well, the fact is that sports careers are short-lived, and if athletes do not manage themselves and their money, they are destined for misery in the end. As it is, the lack of financial management is largely to blame for the poverty woes of athletes.
But below are a few tips that can help our athletes survive:
Save a penny a day
The first step to start saving money is to figure out how much you spend. Keep track of all your expenses —that means every coffee, household item and cash tip. Once you do this, compare your expenditures with your income. Many discover they spend more than they earn, others spend every penny and have nothing to save, whereas others find themselves in debt every month, as they continue to feed their insatiable appetite for a luxurious life. Hard as it may seem, but letting go of things considered non-essentials, can lead towards establishing a sustainable long-term saving practice. It does not matter if you are saving sh1,000 or sh1m.
Avoid peer pressure
Warren Buffett may be one of the richest men in the world, but you may not know it by looking at his modest home and relatively simple lifestyle. He chooses a modest lifestyle because he knows that the accumulation of stuff; is contrary to good, long-term money management. Often, some athletes fall prey to extravagant lifestyles because of peer pressure from their teammates and the outside world. Regardless of your level of income, live a lifestyle that doesn't stretch your budget.
Seek services of a financial consultant or acquire basic financial knowledge
If you consider yourself a bad manager of your money, consider getting help from the experts. However, take caution and get good recommendations for this, because the wrong people can also swindle your hard-earned money. If you cannot afford them, acquire basic financial literacy and education. There are plenty of online classes that are suitable for people with busy schedules. In the long run, the benefits of knowing how to manage your own money are usually worth the sacrifice.
Pay your taxes on time
Whereas the issues of pay as you earn for athletes in Uganda might seem remote, the government has requested football players in the Uganda Premier League to consider remitting Pay As You Earn as well as contribute to National Social Security Fund (NSSF).
As we head towards professional sports, it would be wise to comply with government instructions on taxes. Unpaid taxes have a way of haunting your career. It is a relief however to cite Section 21 (a,b) of the Income Tax Act, an award received by a sports-person as a reward from winning or participating in a sports competition is exempt from tax.
Athletes can compete knowing that they can earn and save from this.
Manage friends and family relationships
Pro-athletes make the same mistakes that others often do —helping struggling friends and family members at the risk of their own financial security. In many cases, when their careers end, these same people hardly come to their rescue.
Many athletes do not come to stardom all by themselves and often feel the obligation to give back to those who have helped them achieve success.
However good the intention is, it should be done in a responsible and manageable manner that does not interfere with the athlete's own financial security.
While there is some substantial amount of money being invested in the sports industry, which has brought forth amazing talents, it has equally robbed these players time to empower themselves with skills other than those needed in their various sports disciplines.
Sports federations have the responsibility to produce all-round athletes.
The writer is a sports activist with a master's in sports management from Real Madrid Graduate School.