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Mind the Gap: Take control of your next career

30 October 2019
Whether you’re 16 or 36, it’s never too early think about the day you call time on your career as a professional footballer.

The 'Mind the Gap’ is a project to help athletes transition from professional sports career to a new career. The project is led by FIFPRO and co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union.

When your sports career ends, life can be tough. There might be a drop in income, loss of confidence and a move away from a support group of teammates and club staff.

According to FIFPRO research, only 13% of professional footballers in Europe have post-school vocational education – compared to 53% of the male population in the EU.

Here's some advice from Giorgio Chiellini, who completed a university degree while playing for Juventus.

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To be sure, to study while being a professional football player can be a challenge.

To perform at your best, you have to fit so much of your life around training and competition schedules. And you never know when you’ll have to drop everything to go to another city or country to secure a contract.

But with determination and organization it can be done. Many universities and college offer the possibility of online courses that make it easier to fit study around your playing commitments.

Studying is likely to boost your playing performance

There is academic evidence that studying-while-playing will pay off earlier than you ever expected.

Research by Professsor David Lavallee at Abertay University, Scotland shows that players involved in post-sports planning are more likely to be selected for matches and enjoy a longer career.

His report states: “Many athletes experience feelings of loss following retirement from sport. Athletes who are effectively supported in preparing for this loss can realize a potential competitive advantage in their sport.”

To put it simply, studying is likely to extend your playing career. Read the report or watch the video to find out more about the research.

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We’re here to help

FIFPRO and our affiliated player associations can help provice support you need. Contact 'Mind the Gap' project leader Nienke van Gerven n.vangerven@fifpro.org if you need advice.

Our network of unions have developed:

  • Partnerships with universities offering discounted courses

  • A network of companies offering work experience and jobs to players

  • Advice on writing CVs and job applications

  • Personal guidance to guide you towards your next career

“We want your next career to be as enjoyable as your football career”

— by Nienke van Gerven. FIFPRO Player Development Manager

Mind the Gap expert partners:

Spillerforeningen (Denmark); Rugby Players Ireland; Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (UK); Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Belgium)

Project Partners

PASP (Cyprus); JPY (Finland); Spelarforeningen (Sweden); PSAP (Greece); PFA Ireland

Project Affiliates

PFA Scotland; UNFP (France); NISO (Norway); SAFP (Switzerland); PFA (England)

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