It is a fact that most footballers are not able to sustain themselves or their families after retirement. While most players aim to be absorbed by the clubs they previously played for, it is unfortunate a club can only employ an average of six (6) professionals in is football structures.
The Chairman of Bloemfontein Celtic, Max Tshabalala is a business man with diversified business interests including property development.
Though Ikaheng Developers & Plat Hire, a company that is owned by Tshabalala and sponsors Celtic, the compassionate Chairman aims to empower former football players through a skills development programme.
The pilot project which is, targeting former football professional from the different eras (NSL and PSL) will up-skill the unemployed legends through various avenues in construction (not physical labour), project management and new business acquisition.
Explaining the motivation behind the project, the Celtic head-honcho said “We are Chairmen and we own teams because of you (former players) mainly for making made a valued contribution to the game. As football people, we need to help each other. I cannot afford to give you a salary or employ you but can create a platform for you to get a stipend and to provide for your families”
In a meeting that was attended by yesteryear legends (like Chippa Sefali – Mainstay Cup winners in 1985) and young legends (Abram “Wire” Nteo), the former players indicated that they welcomed the initiative and are seeking opportunities.
Ace Gulwa, who is a mentee of Max Tshabalala and Ikaheng said “currently, I have a tender to cut grass and would like to expand my business and explore other fields. I would like to get into construction and I believe that through the Ikaheng Developers programme, I will gain the necessary expertise. It is not many people that will allow you to sub-contract under their established companies”
Another attendee, who is one of the founding players of Bloemfontein Celtic, Mike “Puma” Litsili said” while I am a fortunate to an import-export agency, I believe that the initiative will bring relief to my counterparts and I will also gain a lot. I might be a pensioner but you are never too old to learn”
In his parting short, Tshabalala encouraged the legends to be open about their problems and to there for each other, especially during sickness, not only by attending funerals. “Only you can make this project a success, let’s guide each other through the process. Even if you are not part of the project, do shout if you seek help and be open to talk to majita (the guys). ” concluded the optimistic Chairman.
A follow up meeting will be held between the legends, Ikaheng representatives and the office of Free State Human Settlement MEC.