- Former midfielder Ashley Rambanepasi (40) owns a successful business in Zimbabwe that supplies building material
- A former international, he scored one of the goals that ensured The Warriors a place at the 2006 AFCON finals
- At the height of his career a doctor told him that he would no longer be able to play – he returned to professional football three years later
I injured my knee playing for the Zimbabwe U-17 side. Years later the injury reoccurred again. I then had another operation, that was in 2011. I was told that I would never play again, but I was keen to return. But it took very long to recover. I managed to come back in 2014. But the injury hindered me, so I had to retire.
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 material. I approached him and asked if I could learn the trade from him. 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. It's really tight.
Check this video: Ashley Rambanepasi talks about his new career.
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. The other problem is the lack of finance. Especially in Africa, players’ incomes are not really that high, so we need a side hustle, or a business that will help us when our playing days are over. 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 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 onto after their playing days, they will struggle in a normal eight to five job.
I was lucky. My company is going well. We supply building material in 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. In Zimbabwe it is very difficult for a player to earn enough for them not to have to worry about their future after their playing days.
FUZ, the Zimbabwe footballers union, is doing a lot to spread such information. It is difficult for players to accept that they need to look into the future when they are doing well. Sometimes players can struggle to take advice. I think it's very important for the union to use people like me as an example. Why? Because I am one of them [the players]. They know me since I was a boy. When I was growing up, I was part of the community. So I'm actually a living example amongst them. When they see Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, they will think of big money, but they have to realise that that is in Europe. In Africa it is different. So by looking at my example, they will see one of them, they will see somebody who grew up amongst them.
I think the union is helping to change things. Our football is changing, because the players’ mentality is changing. There is education and workshops for the players and as a result the players are looking ahead to life after football. There are a lot of bad examples and young players don't want to fall in the same trap. So they should have a Plan B.”