Dozens of professional footballers are preparing for a second career in accountancy and finance thanks to an exciting collaboration between Premier Training and the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA).
Sports careers can notoriously be short, so Premier Training can offer current and former professional footballers a flexible route to gaining practical qualifications with distance learning AAT courses in accounting and bookkeeping. Many PFA members have already opted for the AAT Level 1 Access Award in Bookkeeping as a taster course to see if distance learning works for them before progressing onto the Level 2 Foundation Certificate in Accounting.
Everton and England defender, Gabby George, was inspired to look at future career options when a knee injury left her side-lined for 12 months. She said:
"Having a long-term injury made me realise it's important to future-proof and have something to fall back on after football. After doing a brief taster of the Level 1 course, it was something I enjoyed and wanted to explore further. I'm using my spare time carefully and hopefully setting myself up for a successful career in accountancy after football. Distance learning is flexible, so I can do it when I have time rather than setting a schedule. I make my own schedule and make it fit around my life.
"The PFA really helped me decide what pathway to go down, and I think I enjoy the business side of football! Premier Training have also been unbelievably helpful. They answer any question I have quickly and send me everything I need, so I'm really thankful to both the PFA and Premier Training and look forward to continuing my work with them."
As a goalkeeper with League Two club Forest Green Rovers, Lewis Thomas is also looking at options once his playing career comes to an end. He said:
"I decided to study AAT alongside being a footballer because I found myself with a lot of free time after I finished training. I wanted to make better use of my free time by getting back into education. The PFA informed me about their bookkeeping and accountancy courses, and I found that this was a subject I was interested in. Football is such a short-lived career, and in the lower leagues, the money you earn doesn't set you up for life, therefore after football, you have to find an alternative career to have an income."
He continued: "Studying via distance learning is critical to me achieving a good grade and ultimately passing the course. My schedule can change daily, so if there were a specific time and date for the classes, I probably wouldn't make them all. Distance learning takes the pressure off and allows me to enjoy the course freely. My ambition within accountancy is to complete the highest level possible, setting me in good stead for when the time comes that I have to retire from football."
"The backing from the PFA and Premier Training is excellent. Their commitment to it really shows that they want us to do well, and they want to help us with life after football. I would advise any player seeking to get back into education to speak to the PFA and let them guide you to a suitable course. Without their support, I don't think I would have looked to get back into education."
While Gabby and Lewis are in their early 20s, Leyton Orient midfielder Craig Clay is 29 years old and opted to go straight onto the AAT Level 2 Foundation Certificate in Accounting.
"I'm getting to that age now where I need to start thinking about life after football," he explained. "After I thought about what I might want to do, I spoke to the PFA, and they guided me towards AAT with Premier Training. I don't think it would be wise to get to the end of my career and have no qualifications behind me. I think it's better to be prepared! I'm not 100% sure what road I'll go down in accountancy, but I do think that with the right qualifications, it will be easier to fall into my perfect job."
On the benefits of distance learning, Craig added: "It's perfect. I can study on the coach if we have an away game and have to stop the night before. Also, Premier Training are flexible with their timetable. I've had the odd few weeks here and there where I've been tired and not had the energy to study, and they've been completely fine with that. I'm enjoying it a lot! Some parts are hard, and I have to go over the same thing a few times to make sure I understand it, but then when you pass an assignment or an exam, it gives you that feeling of achieving something!"
"The PFA have been really good with all this, helping me to choose the right course etc. Likewise, with Premier Training, they've been more than helpful. Whenever I'm stuck or have a problem, my tutor is always a quick call away and is more than happy to take the time to help me."
Thinking about planning your next steps?
If you're interested in exploring your next steps, current and former players can contact the PFA Education team on: firstname.lastname@example.org