“We have seen young players drinking champagne in a swimming-pool on holiday and racking up K60,000 bar bills, but when they are 38 they struggle to pay for shoes for their children. Football is a very short term career that doesn’t last forever. One day your wages will stop but you will still see K30,000 worth of bills coming in and if you can’t sustain it you’ll be bankrupt”.
We can all agree that a footballer’s career rarely lasts more than 15 years.
Within that time players need to plan a successful career path, manage their finances, help pursue a healthy lifestyle, and cultivate a commercially appealing image. In today’s world it seems one has access to all the important information for a footballer’s career.
But, football players, especially younger ones, often do not have the knowledge and experience needed to know what’s best for them.
In Malawi, the majority of our local players have no agents that will help them establish career goals and lead them along that path.
As a result, these players have denied themselves an opportunity to earn a lot of money that would have been given to them had it been that they negotiated better deals through an agent.
For example, some players playing in the TNM Super League earn less than K20 000 per month yet in Mozambique, players playing locally are earning about K3 million per month.
Our clubs are fond of stepping on feet of players on their welfare as well as their career prospects because they (players) negotiate their contracts alone without being represented by agents.
Last season, a wrangle emerged between Nyasa Big Bullets and their star midfielder Dalitso Sailesi over the duration of his contract and a signing-on fee.
Sailesi regretted to have signed a four-year contract with the Peoples’ Team, entitling him to a K1.2 million signing-on fee and a salary of K120, 000.
In his argument, the Flames midfielder said he was not given a chance to consult before signing the contract.
“I have stopped training with Bullets until they review my contract. It is very unfortunate that my team gave me a contract of four years at K1.2 million while others in the team signed for three years and received K4 million,” Sailesi explained.
”I did not accept the signing-on fee as I am waiting for them to sort my issue. It is either they reduce the duration of the contract to a year or I will only play for them if they give me K3 million for the four years they signed me,” he told Daily Times newspaper.
The situation was avoidable if the player had used an agent to enter into negotiations with Bullets for a better deal but things reached this point because Sailesi himself was the one negotiating with Bullets.
Another contractual saga emerged between Jafali Chande and Bullets when the former decided to join rivals Be Forward Wanderers.
Bullets claimed that the player had a two year running contract with them yet it was later discovered that Chande had no contract with the People’s Team.
And at the moment, Max Bullets players are failing to demand for their salaries following the disbandment of the team last season because the players have no documents to show that they had a contract with the team and they have no agents to fight this battle on their behalf.
In general, our local players have become the victims of their own making by failing to be in line with international standards of how contracts are handled.
This could perhaps be a source of light for them to actually ponder on changing their perception over agents and managers.
Footballers are public persons and as they become more and more successful, the media and public’s eyes are upon them.
Having an agent can help since they can offer support and advice in maintaining a positive image in the public and a good connection with the fans.
In today’s world of social media, footballers can share at the click of a button and they would often enjoy a good marketing advice before posting.
Therefore, we are urging the Football Association of Malawi (FAM) to sensitize our players on the need of having agents and if necessary by means of making this compulsory.
Let us move with time. We can stop player exploitation by enforcing every player to have an agent for the betterment and development of our football.