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Mind the Gap’ is a project led by FIFPro to help athletes transition as smoothly as possible between the end of their professional sports career and a new career of their choice. The project is co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union.

When their sports career ends, life can be tough for professional footballers and other 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.

Players often have fewer educational qualifications and less relevant work experience than their competitors in the employment market. Only 13% of active professional male football players 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 footballers are more prepared for a life change: 46% of women professional players are studying for another career, and 67% already have another job.

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

During the 'Mind the Gap' campaign, we will be speaking to footballers and player unions about career transition. Among them is former Dennis Iliohan, a former Dutch professional footballer who has designed the campaign logo.

Dennis Iliohan 640small

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

The job of the PDMs 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.

‘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