Starting his football career at Wrexham in the ‘70’s, PFA Community Liaison Executive Dave Palmer enjoyed a short time on the pitch before embarking on his first football community role. Dave has worked for the PFA for nearly 28 years and mainly focuses on community player engagement. He is closely involved in supporting current and former players who take their passion for giving back to the next level and start their own charitable foundations. We caught up with Dave to find out more about how the PFA Charity supports these inspirational players.
Dave, why do some players choose to start charitable foundations?
The reasons vary, but the underlying driver is always that they want to give back. Sometimes if they sustain long-term injuries, they get more involved in community activities, which can help them when thinking about transitioning out of the game. For others, it might simply be a personal connection to a social problem, or they’ll want to support a cause related to a member of their family or the communities they grew up in.
How does the PFA Charity support these player foundations?
Our input is different in each circumstance, but these foundations must be structured correctly, so we focus on providing sound legal advice. We work with a specialist charity lawyer to get players the right strategy to meet the aims and objectives of their foundations. When a foundation has already been established, we support fundraising events and connect them with our network so that we can help raise the profile of their work.
What are the benefits of setting up your own foundation?
Foundations can help players focus on their own passions, and gives them more scope to support projects that they connect with on a personal level. Sometimes things aren’t feasible locally via a clubs community trust, so foundations can be an excellent way to achieve those goals. Jason Roberts is a great example because his foundation allows him to combine his passion for helping young people in both the communities he represents, here in the UK and Grenada.
How can players find out more about setting up a foundation?
If players were thinking about setting up a foundation, we would start with a discussion about their ideas and work out how best we could help them. Our infrastructure within football, our connections, and our corporate social responsibility programme tied in with national bodies can all be beneficial, and we always make sure we give players unbiased advice. Sometimes we have to tell them it’s a little bit too early, or if they’re still playing, that they’ll need to have someone with experience and expertise to drive it if it’s going to be a success. Maya Yoshida dedicated a percentage of his salary to Southampton’s Saints Foundation because the causes they’re supporting align so closely with his own values, so that’s another option for players who aren’t in a position to look at a full foundation process yet.
What is the PFA Charity’s Community Department hoping to achieve in 2020?
Personally, I would like to see more of the current players who transition from the game go into a community role. When I first started at the PFA, we had top players working in community roles with many being former internationals and that has changed drastically, so we’d like to see more players considering these options when their playing careers come to an end. As always, we will continue to raise awareness about the importance of giving back. Players are hugely influential to young people because they’ve got the credibility to really inspire the next generation and act as mentors to younger teammates too. It’s encouraging that lots of players enjoy supporting their local communities, so I hope we continue to see more of that next year.
We would also like to see a more strategic and integrated approach to involving scholars and younger professionals within community activities as part of their overall development. The Community Trusts and Foundations up and down the country are involved in a huge range of projects and activities where the younger players at the club can make a significant difference through their involvement and engagement. Through this involvement it may also highlight potential career transition opportunities for players leaving the game at this level.