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The career of a professional footballer is - at best - a short one, and for those unfortunate players who suffer serious injury, it can be an all-too-brief flirtation with the beautiful game. Whilst a chosen few stay with the game in a coaching or management capacity, the vast majority of players will probably have to earn their living outside the football arena.

Due to the financial uncertainty in football it is now even more important than ever that players prepare for a career outside football should they not be offered another contract.

To study while being a professional football player can be a challenge. To maintain a performance lifestyle, football players have to fit many aspects of their life into - and around - their intensive training and competitive programmes. Next to that, they are prepared to go and play anywhere in an effort to secure a contract, and if they are following a course of education it may have to be suspended because of this move.

The FIFPro Online Academy will offer these players the prospect of continuing their education online without disruption even if they move to another country. Simply by logging in at the appropriate time the players can participate in their chosen course in a language they are comfortable with.

We all live the dream of securing our financial future from playing football, but only a minority actually do. And too often players wait until the last contract before thinking about what to do after their involvement in the game ends.

Being out of contract is a situation players can't control, but planning your future away from football is one you most definitely can.

So whether a player is 16 or 36, has a one year or five year contract, now is the time to start thinking about the day he calls time on his playing career.

FIFPro and its players' associations encourage as many current players as possible to study for suitable academic/vocational qualifications to develop their career prospects, both within and outside of the game.