OPINION: Who’s To Blame for the Impoverishment of Retired Footballers in Uganda?

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We often hear stories of former star footballers in dire financial conditions when they retire. It is common knowledge that most soccer players in Uganda become broke when they retire from soccer. This not only happens in Uganda, it is worldwide but hits harder home.

It raises eyebrows when you hear of the huge amounts of money most football players earn during their active careers. Such a king’s ransom becomes a sharp hook to many young men who end up choosing football as a career. But what happens to these absurd amounts of money after one retires?

While appearing on the local television on 22nd November 2022, former Uganda cranes player Daniel Wagaluka, whose income was the envy of every young footballer, shocked fans when he asked for the job because he was unemployed and destitute since retiring from football a few years back.

“I am looking for any job because I am a hardworking man who loves work and as of now, I can work as a presenter and marketer, I can do anything because I’m very broke right now” Winger Wagaluka said.

Wagaluka played for Iganga TC, SC Villa, URA, LWEZA, Sona, Maroons, Azam in Tanzania, APR in Rwanda and AFC leopards in Kenya during his active career. He won the 2005 CECAFA-Kagame cup with SC Villa.

It’s remembered that he won the 2007 league title with the URA, he had trials at Scottish side Inverness Caledonian in 2008 and during the trials he played for Inverness Caledonian in a testimonial match against Liverpool.

He consistently played for the Cranes in the AFCON and world cup qualifiers between 2008 and 2012.

In fact, it’s automatic to assume that retiring from football would be a call for celebration and a way to life of ease for the case of winger Wagaluka, who once President Paul Kagame considered as the best player in the region.

Most players in such a dilemma have attributed their unpleasant state of life to different things, some accuse their fans of forgetting them, and others blame the government for failing to plan for their retirement.

Not deviating from the rest, Winger Wagaluka alleges that most Africans forget their players contrary to Europe.

However, this is not true because a large number of players in Europe are in the same boat with Wagaluka.

It’s difficult to conclude why some ex-footballers’ lives remain in a mess regardless of the bundles of cash earned prior to retiring but some educated guesses could be made.

Most players forget that the large sum of money they earn while in the game is meant to last the rest of their lives and live lavish lifestyles. They invest in luxurious assets such as cars, designer shoes and clothes, phones among others. The value of a car depreciates once it is driven out of the dealer’s shop, it also requires maintenance over time.

Daniel Waguluka, who currently claims to be poor, spent his life in bottles according to his story during the interview. In fact, in his shining times he piled up more luxurious assets than real ones. That’s why his life turned dark as soon as he retired, according to friends.

Sports experts argue that footballers retire earlier than the average person, therefore have to be even more strategic in planning their finances for retirement.

Investing in businesses, buying fixed and tangible assets and coming up with a saving plan should be some of the skills footballers need to learn early on in their career.

It’s neither the Government nor anyone else’s responsibility for the impoverishment of ex-footballers. It’s just the ignorance to rightly utilize their earning window especially in their active time before retirement.

It’s very key for footballers to start planning for their retirement just like other employees in different sectors of the economy.

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