Preparing for life beyond football: new manual published

Mind the Gap Statement

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FIFPRO is launching a manual to help prepare footballers for life beyond sport.

The booklet was developed as part of “Mind the Gap”, a European Commission co-funded project, for national player associations.

Developing players beyond their football career has beneficial impact on their retirement but also on their sporting career. This booklet is created to support player development managers in understanding and tackling the challenges of player development. It discusses relevant topics ranging from education and career planning to wellbeing, financial awareness and organisational involvement.

“Many athletes experience feelings of loss following retirement from sport. Athletes who are effectively supported in preparing for this loss can realise a potential competitive advantage in their sport”

— by David Lavallee, Professor of Duty of Care in Sport, Abertay University

The manual consists of three main parts. The first part explains the need for player development, the role of the player development manager and how to interact with players. In the second part, the various aspects of player development programmes are outlined to serve as inspiration for setting up or expanding existing programmes. Lastly, information is provided on how to improve player development programmes, as well as suggestions for advancing the development manager’s own skills and knowledge.

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Screenshot from the Player Development Manual. Using the metaphor of a dugout, it illustrates the Player Development Model and its focus areas.

Throughout the document, many useful tools and strategies are presented that, among other things, will help to create a better understanding of how to best build a relationship with players or how to get players to make use of the available services. It also provides insight into what can be done in certain, more pressing situations in which players face mental health issues or money problems. Moreover, helpful tips for preventing these kind of situations are shared.

“This document is a push to make player development a pillar in social dialogue with other stakeholders.”

— by Jonas Baer-Hoffmann, FIFPRO General Secretary

“The future for many of our players is less certain than it has ever been. It is up to us to rise to this challenge and prepare, guide and assist as many of our players as possible so they feel confident in their abilities to start a new chapter whenever the time comes”, said FIFPRO General Secretary Jonas Baer-Hoffmann. “This document is a push to make player development a pillar in social dialogue with other stakeholders.”

“Studying has helped me to become sharper on the pitch and helped take the pressure off before important matches.”

— by Giorgio Chiellini, defender at Juventus, Italian national team player & university graduate

The Player Development Manual was composed by a highly experienced team in the field of athlete development. The findings of the Mind the Gap project, academic research and input from player development managers in various sports as well as the invaluable input from the contributors and experiences of the authors, played an important role in compiling the booklet. It is part of FIFPRO’s new package of player development activities which will also include webinars, research and extra knowledge-sharing.