OCM wants to teach athletes how to manage their money

Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) president Tan Sri Norza Zakaria says national sports association (NSAs) should include financial management as part of its module when training athletes.

Norza, who is also Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) president, said an athlete’s career is limited but lucrative. However, many are unable to handle the sudden fame and fortune.

“Not just athletes, even administrators in sports associations need to undergo financial management training,” said Norza.

“OCM, through its Athletes Commission, recently had several sessions with the income tax department as we want to educate athletes about taxes.

“But we need to take this further. Some athletes earn lucrative endorsements and sponsorships. Not many know how to invest their money.

“Associations should make it a point to educate them about this aspect – how much they should spend on their ‘lifestyle’ and how much they should put aside for a rainy day.

“Athletes can become entrepreneurs with the right coaching. Or, if they choose, become administrators in NSAs – which would benefit sports.”

He added NSAs should perhaps implement “forced savings” for their athletes.

“The system should prepare athletes for rainy days. It won’t be all sunshine. Look at how Covid-19 affected sports this year,” said Norza.

“Most athletes get monthly allowances. This doesn’t include bonuses and rewards for winning medals.

“NSAs can set aside 10 per cent of the allowances for an EPF-type scheme and another 10 per cent for insurance. If the athletes want, they can top up the amount from their sponsorship deals or winnings from tournaments.

“Right now, most athletes don’t think too much about insurance or medical bills as they can go to the National Sports Institute for treatment. But what happens when they retire?”

Norza also said he is working closely with the Youth and Sports Ministry to get a pension scheme for former athletes off the ground, but cautioned that athletes shouldn’t depend on the government for money.

He added NSAs should help their athletes finish their education as well.

“At BAM, we encourage the juniors to study for IGCSE while some of the seniors are in local universities. We must move towards complete athletes who are well-rounded and can look after themselves,” Norza added.

Last week, former world rally champion Karamjit Singh was in the news as he has had to become an e-hailing driver to make ends meet.

Youth and Sports Minister Reezal Merican Naina Merican had recently told the Dewan Rakyat that his ministry was discussing a pension scheme with various sports organisations and that the proposal would be brought to the Cabinet soon. At present, only athletes who have won Olympic medals are entitled to a pension.

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