AFC Wimbledon midfielder Harry Pell has reflected on his UEFA B Licence coaching journey with the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) and the steps he is taking to prepare for his post-playing career.
Pell, who joined the League Two side last year, recently balanced his full-time playing career with the completion of his UEFA B Licence. The PFA offers its current and former members exclusive, discounted coaching qualifications for players looking towards a secondary career within the game.
The 32-year-old has encouraged other professionals in the game to pursue similar opportunities and to be open-minded when it comes to considering their next steps.
“I think the UEFA B is something that every professional footballer should do. I did my B Licence not necessarily because I want to be a coach, but because I wanted to learn and be amongst fellow professionals who are in the same situation as me - they love the game but don’t know what they’re going to do yet.”
“I learned so much on the course and met some amazing, fantastic people. There are people out there – especially with the PFA – who are offering a helping hand, and you only have to pick up the phone.”
Recognising the often transient nature of a career in football, Pell has talked about his eagerness to “put things in pace” in preparation for the end of his playing career.
“I think it’s really hard for footballers. We have the best job in the world, but the problem with football is that it doesn’t last forever.
“As a professional footballer coming out of the game, I think it’s really important to try and find that thing that motivates you to get up in the morning and go to work with a smile on your face. Football takes up so much of your life. It’s important to sometimes take a step back and think of the bigger picture.”
Jim Hicks, the PFA’s Head of Coaching and former professional footballer, accompanied Pell throughout his B Licence course.
“Harry has enormous talent and a natural ability to inspire and motivate.” Hicks said. “He was extremely committed throughout the course and fit it in around his other professional and personal commitments.”
“He doesn’t yet know if he wants to go into coaching, but at this stage of a player’s career that’s not uncommon. Sampling these options is all part of the transitional journey.”
A crucial part of the PFA’s work is to help members transition to a new stage of life after retiring from football, equipping them to take up new opportunities within or beyond the game.
Over the 2022/23 season, the PFA helped over 670 members achieve their UEFA C Licence. 250 also completed their UEFA B Licence, the minimum qualification required to work in the UK’s elite academy system.
The union has also recently launched the PFA Business School, an initiative focused on equipping players with skills to help them unlock new career opportunities within the football industry.
With lecturers from the highest levels of football, sport and media, the school runs seven industry-specific programmes – including in Football Business Management and Football Sports Directorship – which are designed around the busy schedules of current players and working professionals.