This is an on-going problem which most professional sports people face. From my knowledge only a limited number of sports people undertake more studies to prepare themselves for  some form of employment after they retire from their chosen sport. There are  many  demands made on professional sports people . These will be  all the  training, travelling ,making public and social commitments and for competing  for their club/team or country.

Recently , I read an interesting comprehensive article in the Sunday  Times dated 3 March, 2019 about Bryan Habana. This full page article  was called  ‘Life of Bryan” and the sub-title being   ‘Hanging up his boots has been quite an adjustment for the rugby legend, though he’s taking it in his stride- ‘

The all-time  leading Springbok rugby  try-scorer retired from the sport that made him famous  over a year ago. For most professional athletes, especially those who have risen to the pinnacle of their chosen sport, the change  to “real “ life is challenging. However Brian Habana  seems  to be making the transition successfully and with a plan. He had time to ponder and plot his post-rugby future in that final , frustrating season in the south of France.

‘It has been an adjustment because the “real:” world is quite different to the bubble that is professional sports. I am still trying to find my feet’ Habana said.

“Obviously I miss the financial aspect of the sport. Being paid pretty well to do what you love for nearly 16 years is special. But I miss the routine from a physical training aspect- although I don’t  miss the massive contact.”

Habana 35,was smart enough to understand that when the lights  faded, he would need a plan for the next phase of his life. Not many people have risen to the top of  a chosen profession, been feted and glorified, and then quietly slipped into relatively anonymity, all by their mid-30’s

“‘I thought the transition period would be a little less hectic than it has been

Bryan  is based in Cape Town with his wife and two children, but spends two weeks out of each month overseas. He does some television work on Channel four in Britain. He is on the HSBC World Sevens  roster. Also he  is  the Mastercard ambassador for Rugby World Cup 2019.

Bryan has given himself 18 months  for this major transition.

I have tried to find out approximately how many professional sports people retire from their chosen sports. However, I believe that it must be close to a thousand each year. To obtain employment linked to their previous sport is limited to some of the following;

Becoming a coach or assistant coach or in charge of a special aspect of their sport e.g. back line coach.

TV or radio commentator.

Journalist.

Groundskeeper

Public Speaker 

Motivational Speaker.

I recently read in an article in the Sunday Times dated 3 March 2019 that there are 43 South African cricketers who have taken up Kolpak contracts since 2004, to play professional cricket in the United Kingdom.

I was very fortunate to meet and get to know Jacques Botes who played 156 Currie Cup games and 115 Super Rugby games for Natal Sharks. Jacques was a guest speaker at our church a few years ago. Also, he kindly agreed to be our special guest, when our book was launched. After Jacques retired, he worked at the Sharks as a Player Developing Manager that included amongst other things mentoring and contracting players. 

I asked Jacques to provide me with his views since retiring from The Sharks which is quoted below;

“I was fortunate that I had an opportunity to move straight into a position at The Sharks after my playing days. One of the biggest challenges I faced was figuring out what I wanted to do and what I would be good at. Most people go through that challenge during their twenties before they settle in a specific field. Currently I’m the GM at the Parys Golf & Country Estate as well as being involved in a bit of private coaching and mentoring. I don’t think one can prepare yourself 100% for the transition but putting it into perspective helps and my advice to current players would be to explore different fields of employment and gather as much experience as possible whilst playing to avoid less time” treading water”. Change in life is constant, by preparing for it mentally and emotionally it and then embracing it you give yourself the best opportunity to make the transition smooth and hopefully successful.”

Conclusion

I have researched the internet to learn more about this most important subject, which generally does not paint a very rosy picture overall.  

Taking into account the above, there are a limited number of these positions available. Therefore, like Bryan Habana did, it is necessary to plan very carefully for one’s future career after being a professional sports person.

Barry Smith.