Michael Bennett, Director of Player Welfare
Michael Bennett, Director of Player Welfare.
Michael is a former professional footballer having played for Charlton, Wimbledon, Brentford, Millwall, Brighton and England under 20’s.
After retiring from the game, Michael qualified as a psychotherapist and counsellor. He applied his skills and experience working with schools and local communities to provide counselling and mentoring support for young people with behavioural issues.
Michael set up Unique Sports Counselling and worked with professionals from across the sporting world. He has worked tirelessly to elevate the profile of mental health and wellbeing in football and the wider sports arena.
On joining the Professional Footballers Association (PFA) Michael initially worked as an Education Officer, raising the awareness of current and former players to the importance of education and vocational training; encouraging and supporting them to embrace learning opportunities.
Recognising that players had very limited access to emotional/wellbeing support. Michael was appointed to the position of Director of Player Welfare in 2011 and heads up the department that offers mental health/wellbeing and emotional support to current and former professional footballers.
He devised and implemented the PFA’s Welfare strategy which includes:
- Establishing the PFA Nationwide Network of Counsellors - currently 150 counsellors.
- Launching the PFA's 24hr telephone helpline.
- Delivering the PFA's inaugural Mental Health and Wellbeing Conference. Delivering education workshops on mental health and wellbeing to 92 league and WSL 1 clubs.
- Devising mental health and wellbeing policy and procedures.
Michael has been at the forefront of highlighting issues relating to professional footballers’ often obscured mental health issues. He is widely recognised as an ambassador and expert in this area.
He is currently a panel member for a number of Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing Strategy Groups.
Michael is currently studying for his PHD in Mental Health within Football.