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Coronavirus shutdown: Forward planning advice for footballers

Education and Development Explainer

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As a professional footballer, you most likely have more free time because of the coronavirus, so now is a good time to invest in your personal development and start looking ahead to a second career. Nienke van Gerven, a player development manager at FIFPRO.

Where do I start?

Figure out what you want to do. What are your interests? Do you like to be inside or outside, do you like to be creative, or help people? Make a list with things that give you energy, and a list with those that you find tiring. It might help to figure out what you like. Speak to former teammates, friends and family for their views. Your player association may have a personal development manager who can advise you.

What courses do you recommend for football players?

Everyone is different so you need to find out which course suits you. Many footballers would like to stay in the game, perhaps in coaching or in another club role. That’s fine but, remember, there is only a limited amount of such jobs in the industry. There are so many other jobs you can enjoy: we know of players that did a course to become a landscape gardener, journalist, airline pilot, physiotherapist, graphic designer, doctor, carpenter, teacher, and so on.

“Figure out what you want to do and don't be shy about asking for advice”

— by Nienke van Gerven, FIFPRO, player development manager

I have an idea of what I want to do, but I am not sure about what to do next.

Start looking online to see what is on offer –- and if the teaching method suits you. If you are interested in an online course, are you disciplined enough to keep pace? Could you manage to study 20 hours a week, or would you prefer 10?  If it is a course where you have to attend classes in person is that feasible with your training and match schedule? If you speak English, try the Open University. But there are many other online universities around the world.

How will I know if a course is suited for me?

Check the requirements and costs of the course. Do you fulfill the requirements such as previous education or fluency in a language? Phone the admissions office of a college or university to discuss the entry requirements, Contact students and teachers on the course to find out practical information. Don’t be shy about asking questions. The staff at your national players association can help you to make a decision but also speak to a wide range of people.

Personal development benefits athletes on the field, study finds

There are no courses starting right now.

Most formal education will not start until the beginning of next school year, which in many countries is September 2020. However, don’t sit back and wait. Learning a new language, playing a musical instrument, or even cooking are all things that add to your personal development. If you need to speak good English to enroll on a course, now is the right time to work on that. Besides education, there are many things you can do to develop yourself: watch webinars such as TEDx, listen to podcasts, do an online course, or follow a MOOC.

What is a MOOC?

A Massive Open Online Course. There are hundreds of these courses available online. They vary in length, costs and entry level. Some are accredited which means that the certificate or points you receive are recognised by governments; others are not. Taking a MOOC can be a good, low-risk way of finding whether you are interested enough in a subject to pursue it further. Other MOOC platforms where you can find courses include Coursera, edX and the Johan Cruyff Institute.

Does FIFPRO organize any courses?

FIFPRO offers courses in business administration, sports law, and sports management. Your national player association may have many more options for subsidised courses via partnerships with local universities. It is really worth contacting them to find out how they can help you.