IT'S back to school for ex-professional footballers.As the popular saying goes, one is never too old to learn.

And the yesteryear's stars, who used to mesmerise crowds with their silky diski skills, are going back to school.

This is thanks to the ground-breaking partnership between Unisa, the South African Masters and Legends Football Association (SAMLFA), the Embassy of Spain and the Spanish Football League (La Liga) in South Africa, the Unisa-SAMLFA Empowerment and Capacity-Building Programme.

The programme sets out to equip professional players, regardless of age and gender, with the skills necessary to avoid the financial and other pitfalls common to professional sport in general, football in particular.

"This is undoubtedly a good initiative for us former players, " said former Bafana Bafana and Orlando Pirates star Edward "Magents" Motale.

"We all know that most of us we struggle after are playing days. This will mostly help the next generations with budgeting, investing and saving. 

"During our playing days we didn't invest or save. It was all about fame and driving expensive cars."

Spanish football legend Fernando Sanz, who attended the launch, said former players all over the world face similar challenges.

Sanz is the La Liga head of International Institutional Relationships and head of Ambassadors Project.

He shared his insights on managing a successful career.

"When you earn a good salary, you are not thinking of the future, " said Sanz.

"Suddenly, one day, your career is finished. You start a new life at what? age 33, 35... 38. Your career might be finished, but you are still young. You still need to support your family.

"So that is where we come in as La Liga, to help former players through such initiatives."

It will include mechanisms to support and assist both current and ex-players in acquiring and enhancing lifelong technical and educational capacities.

This will be done through short courses and formal learning programme, workshop and football clinics.

Building the capacity of women in football will be a specific focal point of the programme.

SAMLFA president Buddha Mathathe has hailed the initiative, saying it is first for professional footballers.

"As SAMLFA we welcome the partnership. This will go a long way towards assisting the current and former players to prepare for life after football."