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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 their sports career ends, life can be tough for athletes. Suddenly, sometimes without warning, a gap opens in their lives: there might be a drop in income, loss of confidence and a move away from a support group of teammates and club staff.

They often have fewer educational qualifications and less relevant work experience than others in the employment market. Only 13% of professional footballers in Europe have post-school vocational education – compared to about 53% of the male population in the EU.

GER Educational attainment per region 640

Source: 2016 FIFPro Global Employment Report

While male footballers typically neglect their education and focus their energy on reaching the elite level of their sport, women professional footballers are more prepared for a life change: 46% are studying for another career.

Juventus captain Giorgio Chiellini (in the video above) is among male professional footballers who have shown that a sports career is compatible with further education: Chiellini has a master’s degree in business administration from Turin University.

Chiellini says studying has helped him become sharper on the pitch, and helped take the pressure off before important matches.

Research by Abertay University in Dundee, Scotland backs up Chiellini's view

In a study of 632 Australian rugby league players over three years, those who were actively preparing for their career transition had a longer, more succesful career as an athlete. (See video above).

During the 'Mind the Gap' campaign, we will be speaking to footballers and player unions about career transition.

Among them, former Dennis Iliohan, a former Dutch professional footballer who has designed the campaign logo below.

Dennis Iliohan 640small

As part of the 'Mind the Gap,' several national player associations have hired player development managers (PDMs) to advise footballers about preparing for a post-sport career.

Their job will include identifying the competitive advantages of footballers in the employment market, and creating a CV database and online career planning tool players can use.

You can read more about them and their roles here.

mtg new pdms 650

‘Mind the Gap’ has a total of 14 partners based in Belgium, Cyprus, Ireland, Finland, France, Greece, Norway, Sweden and the U.K. Most are national football players associations, but the Irish rugby player association, the U.K.-based Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme and the University of Brussels are also particpating.

Click here for more information about the partners of this project

Click here for more news about the Mind the Gap project