Pension scheme for athletes is a welcome move

Athletes compete during the 33rd Kenya Defense Forces Athletics Championships held at the Kasarani Sports Centre, Nairobi. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Sportsmen and women usually have a limited career period due to several factors including age, timeliness and physical demands.

Health grounds can also limit one’s career where injuries to the body have shortened people’s shelf life.

It is, therefore, a welcome move for Athletics Kenya and CPF Financial Services to initiate a pension scheme for Kenyan athletes.

There are numerous former athletes, who were a force to reckon with during their playing periods but are destitute today. Some cannot afford basic needs even as they suffer the indignity of begging for money to settle medical bills.

Others during their hay day, earned big money and were feted locally and abroad. But due to lack of sound financial planning and advice, they are a pale shadow today. They cannot make ends meet. This should not always be the case.

The stars made Kenya known globally as a sporting nation and put our name on the lips of millions of people. Why should they suffer in their twilight years?

The Mwanariadha Pension Plan should come in handy for retiring athletes. The money put into the scheme by all stakeholders should ensure blissful retirement for all Kenyan stars.

The Athletics Kenya Veterans Endowment Fund will take care of retired athletes in need of financial help. The organised scheme, which will have individuals and companies putting in resources, will also create a community that cares and works towards eradicating poverty.

The initiative will raise funds through events and sporting activities to cater for the welfare of all Kenyan athletes. This is a laudable move that should get support from the government, business people and sports enthusiasts.

It is not fair for Kenyan athletes to provide joy, pride and entertainment during their peak, only to wallow in want when they hang up their gear.

The Ministry of Sports, Athletics Kenya, CPF and other players should put their act together and deliver a pension scheme all Kenyans will be proud of. Once the seed money has been put into the scheme, investment experts should help grow the fund and make sound financial decisions that look into the future and welfare of Kenyan athletes.

Sports CS Ababu Namwamba rightly termed this a new era where standards for supporting athletes to achieve excellence, has just begun. This will ensure athletes’ contributions to nation-building are not only celebrated, but also they get a just reward financially.

We urge the fund leaders to ensure financial prudence and guard against any ventures that may take much-needed resources into the wrong hands.

Sports, as has been said before, is a thriving sector that can grow the economy in a big way, if only financial discipline is applied at all levels.

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