BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
FORMER Warriors midfielder Ashley Rambanapasi, who now owns a company that supplies building material, has encouraged footballers to create multiple streams of income during their playing days in order to have something to fall back on after retirement.
Rambanapasi is one of the players, who struggled to make ends meet when his career was cut short by a recurring knee injury.
At the height of his career in 2010, a doctor told him that he would no longer be able to play but he returned to professional football three years later.
And as expected it was never the same and he eventually had to hang the boots in 2015.
“A year after the injury, when I realised that I was not recovering very well, I started looking outside the box. What should I do? What can I do? I had a small family and needed to look after them. I had a close friend who was supplying building materials. I approached him and asked if I could learn the trade from him,” the 40-year-old told the International Federation of Professional Footballers (Fifpro)’s official website.
“And from there, I started learning. It took me about a year to really learn the ropes and get to know the trade in full. At the start, it was not easy. I wasn’t making money.
“But every business, every project comes with its own challenges. And since I was new to the trade, I did not have much income. So it was really difficult.”
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While his business of supplying building materials in the form of pit and river sand, quarry dust and stones, gravel, cement and bricks is thriving, a lot of former players are wallowing in abject poverty.
Rambanapasi has taken the opportunity to encourage footballers to prepare for eventualities at the peak of their careers.
“Now I wish I had started much earlier. Looking back, if I just started this when I was 19 or 20, I would have grown much bigger than I am today. But of course you don’t think of those things when you are young,” he said.
“But this has to be done while you are still playing, while you are still getting some funds, so that you have enough funds to start your business. I see a lot of players struggling after their careers. During your playing days, you’ll be getting money from everywhere. You get it from the club, from the national team, maybe sponsors.
“But if you don’t have a Plan B for after your career, it will be very difficult. When you are playing it is the time to think of these things. Your working time is very little and you have a lot of spare time. You train for two hours, maybe even two hours twice a day. But the rest of the time is yours.
“So players would have ample time in their hands to do something else. If they don’t have anything to fall back on after their playing days, they will struggle in a normal eight to five job.”
Rambanapasi is already looking to expand his business while he also expressed the desire to employ some former players, who are struggling.
“I was lucky. My company is going well. We supply building material in the form of pit sand and river sand, quarry dust and stones, gravel, cement and bricks. My aim is to go into the earth-moving business.
“But at the moment I am happy with what I have. I work with two drivers as I have three trucks.
“I would love to employ some former players to help them find their feet. Many of the players that I played with are struggling. They don’t have jobs, but they have families. Some of them have turned to drugs to make things easier, but that just makes them more difficult,” he said.
A league championship winner with CAPS United, Rambanapasi praised the Footballers Union of Zimbabwe (Fuz) for their efforts to change things through education and workshops for the players.