I have an idea. But my concern is, who will help me put my idea into action as it's very important for the players and administrators who ply their trade in the Trinidad and Tobago Pro and Super Leagues.
Players, both men and women, who represent Trinidad and Tobago should also be eligible.
If somehow a rule could be made so that the league could enforce a law that requires all players, coaches, assistant coaches, administrators and referees who take part in the league (mentioned above) to participate in a Flex-Spending Account Plan or a Marvin Lee Trust Fund, it will benefit them later down the road.
The idea came to me after I read the news about a former captain of Presentation College, San Fernando football team now turned professional league player.
The Police FC player is now sharing space in an emergency relief shelter with several other families who were displaced by the devastating floods of last week.
We all know in the past how many of our soldiers have fallen on the field, and either died, or never played again.
Thanks to the financial backing of TTFF special advisor Jack Warner, the late Marvin Lee got help. But many didn't; Richard Theodore - an off field injury - and Anthony Noreiga comes to mind.
Noreiga suffered a brain contusion after colliding with his team-mate, goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams, and American striker Brian Ching as they were challenging for an aerial ball during a Gold Cup match.
The idea would work like this (example)
1. Top paid players are required to donate just $10 TTD per paycheck.
2. Lower paid players are required to donate just $5 TTD per paycheck.
3. Coaches and Administrators are required to donate just $10 TTD per paycheck.
4. Assistant coaches and referees are required to donate just $5 TTD per paycheck.
5. People outside the league are also eligible to donate to help such cause.
6. Participants must be active for 1 year to be eligible for help.
7. TTFF will be required to donate $100 TTD per month.
8. Government will match all contributions.
The money will go into a Flex-Spending Account which will be handled by a responsible and honest person, who the Pro League board will, of course, oversee and keep tabs on his/her performance.
The public will be updated periodically on its progress; this way, everyone gets involved and a sense of trust will be nurtured.
The funds will be used strictly for any player, coach, administrator, assistant coach or referee who is facing difficult times or becomes severely ill. In which case, of course, the applicant must prove such.
The money will accumulate to an unlimited amount until needed. Help in case of natural disasters, fire to homes, long-term injuries, need for medical assistance (etc) can be sought for anyone at anytime.
The way the funds would be disbursed will all depend on the nature of the incident and would cover the participants up to one year or more, depending on the balance in the account.
I believe this idea will give the players et al some sort of insurance and hope, and so strengthen the leagues in T&T.
I know to some the idea may be far-fetched but in the long-term participants will benefit greatly. Remember, regular insurance helps but only to a limit, not to mention the miles one has to go to get any sort of reimbursement. It rarely caters for lost jobs or a house being burnt to the ground.
The Flex-Spending Account will be more of a family network - a non-profit organization - and if this idea becomes successful a full retirement plan should be considered. I believe the government should get involved to at least get the idea off the ground, in addition to the added contribution of the participants.
Both foreign and local participants will be eligible for the retirement plan, with a stipulation that foreign players can only receive a lump-sum payout and must be active in the league for a minimum of 5 years.
Locals should also be required to stay active for a minimum of 3 years and must be of retirement age (35). If one puts in his time and does not have the age, one will be required to wait until the retirement age is reached to collect any funds due.
Different contribution equals different payout. There will be different packages. For example, you can deposit up to 40% of your pay into the retirement fund and with the accumulation of interest you could walk away with a sizeable amount after you retire. You would also be able to borrow at a low interest rate against your retirement should you run into trouble before maturity.
And finally, this is a foundation we can build on and other sport associations in T&T are more than welcome to join in; we need to look after our sport men/women who do us proud.
These are all examples (so to speak) but its an idea worth your attention for the least.
There is life - after sports.