NAIROBI, Kenya, July 12 – Kenya’s first steeplechase Olympics gold medallist, Amos Biwott has urged the insurance industry to come up with a pension scheme for retired and current athletes.
The number of retired sports men and women living in poverty is high and according to Biwott, who won Kenya’s first men’s 3000m steeplechase gold at the 1968 Mexico Summer Games, something needs to be done about the situation.
“I look back and see how well Athletes nowadays earn and It hits me I was Kenya’s first ever steeplechase gold medalist and I have nothing much to show for it,” he said.
By winning the steeplechase gold medal, Biwott started a trend that has seen the steeplechase race nicknamed the Kenyan event because of the country’s dominance in it at major championships.
Despite the triumph and running at many international meets, Biwott only has a small piece of land that he inherited from his father, two grass thatched mud houses and two cows as property he owns.
“I look back at my career and the biggest regret I have is we didn’t have a proper pension scheme to assist us in retirement”. My wife and I were both athletes and right now we are so poor to a point where sometimes we don’t even have food to eat,” Biwott disclosed.
Biwott’s case is one of many in Kenya where athletes despite having good careers in sports and earning so much money while at their peak end up being very poor.
This has necessitated the need for a conference to address Biwott and other sports person’s issues.
The Sports finance conference which will be held at a Nairobi hotel July 28 and 29 will address many issues in sports finance including sports commercialization, a pension scheme for sports men and women, insurance packages that can work for sports men and women, the role of agents, and different corporates will also get to know how they can tap into the sports industry.
“An athlete’s life at the top is normally 10 years. During that time they should make wise decisions and plan for when they are no longer active in sports. Unfortunately most of them make poor decisions because they lack professional support while at their peak,” Sports Finance Conference Director Stanley Omino stated.
The conference will together with players in the banking and insurance industry ensure that the issue of financial advice is given prominence by everyone involved in sports and they have services that suit their unique lifestyles.
The conference is also hoping to get a solution to what Biwott has pointed out; A pension scheme for sports men and women not just in Kenya but also in the rest of Africa.
Director of Utmost Insurance Brokers, Peter Kimari Kihara says the idea of getting a pension scheme for athletes is a very well thought out idea and one that is long overdue.
“I believe our sports men and women are key members of our community and they deserve to be treated like any other worker. The same way other workers get to plan for their future after work people in sports should also do the same. Save knowing that even after they retire they will have something coming their way”.
The 2016 Sports Finance Conference will be the first in Africa and according to Omino it will be an annual event to ensure that as many sports men and women as possible are reached.