It must be a welcome news the revealed collaborative initiative by the Ghana Football Association (GFA) and the Retired National Footballers Association of Ghana (RENFAG) to set up a pension scheme for retired national footballers.
The pension scheme, which we are told will cater for all categories of retired players of the national teams (from the youth teams through to the senior sides of both male and female), will be drawn from a Special Endowment Fund (SEF) to be set up for the purpose.
Even though the proposed scheme is yet to see the light of day (as it is scheduled to be launched next week Wednesday), we cannot stop praising both the FA and the RENFAG for the thought or dream of it.
Perhaps it is even long overdue. But the fact that it has finally dawned on the football authorities to take the bull by the horns to solve one of the debilitating problems of retired footballers in this soccer-crazy country must be a gargantuan step in the right direction.
It is always a pathetic sight to behold many of our national heroes and heroines wither away in penury after very fruitful and financially rewarding adventures in the service of their nation.
Indeed, many have passed on in abject poverty and under horrible conditions that belied their status as national athletic icons.
And short of mentioning names, many more are currently in the throes of financial want to care for basic necessities such as food and clothing, as well as health needs.
We dare state that the situation is not one to be proud of as a nation of outstanding sportsmen and women. It cannot also be an encouragement to young athletes desirous of eclipsing the heights reached by some of these role models.
We urge that once the SEF is launched on Wednesday, all contributors to it should be devoted to the cause and see to its fruition.
As pointed out by the PR Manager of RENFAG, Willie Klutse, in the flagship Daily Graphic yesterday, the FA would be expected to pay the seed money as start-up, while the Ministry of Youth and Sports (MOYS) would not only contribute something but also see to it that five per cent of gate proceeds from all home matches of the Black Stars was devoted to the fund for sustainability.
Doubtless, this is a laudable initiative that must be pushed to its logical conclusion and we will not hesitate to join the FA, RENFAG and the MOYS in appealing to donor organizations, corporate entities and generous and patriotic individuals to contribute to the fund.
We think the sustenance of this fund can serve as the basis for a larger or enhanced pension scheme for all our retired national athletes and not only footballers.
It is disheartening to find some of our national icons drop to ground zero with all the millions or billions of cash made suddenly blown off after affluent lifestyles while they were gainful professionals.
We cannot blame anybody but the athletes themselves and their hangers-on managers for mismanaging their resources at prime time.
Wouldn’t it be sad to hear in future that our current crop of national athletes had become bankrupt and societal nuisance after the huge winning bonuses they earned playing for the Black Stars and the contractual sums earned with their clubs?
Yet, it will be pleasant when such a window of rehabilitation as the SEF or pension scheme exists to cater for such unexpected situations, which is why we welcome the initiative once again.
Source: Graphic Sports