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Five new staff are working at football player unions thanks to funding from the 'Mind the Gap' campaign organized by FIFPRO and co-funded by the European Union’s Erasmus+ programme.

The five new Player Development Managers (PDMs) have started to help prepare professional footballers with their career transition.

We spoke to each of them about their experience and plans for their new job.

Meet the new hires.

CYPRUS:

Avramis Arnaouti, a former academy player at Olympiakos Nicosia, has a sports management degree. His job is to address players about services the national player union (PASP) offers, including deals with private universities which allow them to claim as much as 50 percent off tuition fees. “Many players want to stay in football and are interested in a sports science degree,” Arnaouti said. “But there are not enough jobs for everyone so I encourage them to explore other options. We have some studying law and computer science.”

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FINLAND:

Aku Tervaniemi has a master’s degree in the career transition of footballers. More than half of football players outside the top division in Finland have a second job or are taking further education because their pay is relatively low. “My job at the player union is to find those who need help to work out what they would like to do,” he said. “I am also setting up a network of companies interested in hiring footballers because of their skillset." The network already includes courier DHL and home-security company Verisure.

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GREECE

Giannis Braho played for nine clubs in Greece’s second and third divisions in between 2012 and 2018. After graduating from a FIFPRO course in sports management at University College of Northern Denmark during his career as a player, he is well-placed to advise others on how to combine football and education. He will visit team dressing rooms in August and September. “We are going to have a more professional and structured approach to helping players using knowledge we are getting from the ‘Mind the Gap’ campaign,” he said.

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IRELAND

For her PhD in elite athlete career transition at Dublin City University, Emma Connaughton worked with Irish Olympic athletes in the run-up to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics to prepare them for “Post-Games Blues”. She recently became the first full-time PDM at the Irish player union (PFAI) and will work with about 250 professional footballers. “It’s a great opportunity for me to ensure that player wellness and career planning are among the key services proved to our members,” Connaughton said.

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SWEDEN

Peter Martinsson has worked as a dual career coordinator at Malmo sports academy since 2004. After recently helping several players nearing the end of their career at Malmo football club, he has become the first PDM at Swedish player union Spelarforeningen. “I have to work out the best strategy about how to be useful to a wide circle of players,” Martinsson said. "I am looking forward to the challenge." His football experience extends to being an assistant referee in the Swedish league and Champions League for eight years until 2016.

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