The Professional Footballers' Association Charity provides grants for educational and vocational training for current and former PFA members.
The PFA Charity (through the operation of the PFA Education Department) provides guidance for the provision of educational and vocational courses, in preparation for a second career, for all former and current registered members of the PFA.
It is crucial that footballers, as elite sportsmen, are able to manage the competitive demands of their lives both on and off the field, so that they can perform at the highest level possible. In order to maintain performance lifestyle, football players have to fit many aspects of their life into and around their intensive training and competitive programmes. When striving for excellence it is often too easy to miss the bigger picture and ignore some of the fundamental aspects of your life, and the fact that one day your football career will come to an end and you may have to change direction.
As we all know, the career of a professional footballer is, at best, a short one and for those unfortunate players who suffer serious injury, it can be an all-too-brief flirtation with the beautiful game. Whilst a chosen few stay in the game, in a coaching or management capacity, the vast majority of players will probably have to earn their living outside the football arena.
The main aim of the PFA Education Department is to encourage as many current and ex-PFA members as possible to undertake suitable academic/vocational qualifications to develop their career prospects...both within and outside the game.
Through its Education Department, the PFA provides a second-to-none service in terms of offering information, advice and grants to current and former players (registered as full members) towards most courses leading to a recognised qualification.
It’s a fact that the playing career of a professional footballer is on average eight years, which makes it all the more important for players of all ages to weigh up their options and consider an alternative career path...now!
Pat Lally, Head of PFA Education.
PFA Education is constantly striving to increase awareness of the learning opportunities available to players.
Many players feel that they do not have the time to undertake some form of training or learning outside their football development programme.
Others may be combining the demands of playing at elite level with the responsibilities of raising a family.
Conscious of this, we feel that we must supplement the good work already undertaken with new approaches to the way in which we connect with players. We also want to get across the message that learning need not only provide second career options but can also be part of a self development programme.
In order to drive home this message, I have been appointed to work within PFA Education with the express remit of getting out to the clubs to make players aware of who we are, what we offer and how we can help.
Initial contact with players will be informal and interactive. We want to know if there are any skills they want to develop which may not be currently catered for and look to tailor courses towards these needs.
Players are often reluctant to embark on courses because of the time commitment required. For their benefit, we hope to arrange short taster courses in a range of topics which should be aimed at making learning interesting and accessible.
By presenting a visible, approachable presence within clubs on a regular basis, players will feel more comfortable discussing or enquiring about any courses or personal development programmes.
Through this new approach, we hope to encourage a greater take up of the training and learning opportunities open to players. If not, then at least it will sow the seeds for players to return to learning further down the line.
Oshor Williams, Education Executive.