Preparing players for life after football is a priority for Danish player association Spillerforeningen. At the heart of their programme is Rasmus Haagensen, who set up a dedicated player development unit over 10 years ago.
Haagensen graduated in social science and sports science while he was a professional handball player in Denmark. He and his colleagues have now helped hundreds of players to prepare for life after football.
A signed agreement with the Danish league and clubs enables them to visit clubs regularly and speak to players. This starts as early as the Under-19 age group.
Haagensen and his colleagues focus on building trust so that players open up, accept support, and find the motivation to do something. “We try to get them to find out about themselves, what they want to do after football and what their skills are. We find that motivation then 'hold their hand' to get them moving in the right direction,” he says.
“We try to get them to find out about themselves, what they want to do after football and what their skills are”
FLEXIBLE AND REMOTE STUDY
Danish player and athlete associations have worked with universities to design courses that allow athletes to study online, postpone exams and prolong courses. This means that even players who move abroad can continue with their studies. However, players are encouraged to study alongside regular students when possible as it helps them to discover a world outside football.
Of course, online study is not possible for the practical classes of technical courses like engineering and physiotherapy.
“There is a realization that studying doesn’t have to interfere with football”
SUPPORT IN ALL AREAS
Danish players are currently studying everything from sales courses to sports management, teaching and personal coaching.
And finding the right course is just one pillar. The player development programme has also built a CV database that matches players with employers, while a ‘transition program’ helps players in the last year or two of their career to prepare for life after football.
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