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Kenyan rugby clubs are preparing players for life after sports

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya does not have structures to aid sports persons to transition to post-active sports life upon retirement and players who exit the scene are often left to their devices since they lack life skills to manage their newly-acquired status.

That is the view of Douglas Wakiihuri, Former world marathon champion, who told Xinhua during an interview on Wednesday that he always advises upcoming athletes that the podium is the highlight of their careers, but they should prepare for a lonely life once the limelight ends.

"They are champions and have achieved a dream that everybody desires and therefore the society looks up to them and expect a lot from them because of what they have achieved and forgets that they are people like every other normal person," said Wakiihuri, the 1987 world marathon champion.

However, the Kenya Harlequins Rugby Club has a unique program where they prepare players for life after retirement so that they avoid the pitfalls that others have gone through.

Richard Njoba, former Kenyan rugby international who is also an official at Harlequins, said when athletes retire and opt not to use their knowledge in bettering sports, the industry loses the experience that has been accumulated over many years.

"Clubs and sports federations must now start about life after retirement for their players.

"At Harlequins, we have taken the initiative to prepare young players for life after sports," Njoba remarked.

"During my heyday, players were very dedicated to their clubs where they would play until retirement, unlike nowadays where they move freely around the clubs," he noted.

He said at Harlequins, players that come from outside Nairobi are provided with a house and receive a stipend for attending training.

"When you house and pay the players, you capture their hearts and they will be loyal to the club, which is involved in their education.

"To us, this is the first step in preparing them for life after rugby," he said.

After the players are past their peak, they are relegated to the second team or dropped out altogether.

"If this happens and you don’t have a solid foundation whether by way of an education, a job, savings, or business, life after sports will be cold and lonely.

"In one way, we are starting to address the future of these young people," the former star said.



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