PFA launches new ‘RECONNECT’ fitness network for former professionals

Reconnect session one

The PFA has launched a new initiative designed to help former players manage the physical and mental transition away from full-time football.

RECONNECT is a new nationwide fitness network offering recently retired professional players access to monthly high-performance training sessions. 

Developed in partnership with P3RFORM, the project will help former players maintain physical fitness after they hang up their boots. The sessions will also provide members with the chance to maintain and develop social connections with other former players from across the game within a ‘team’ environment.

The programme is fully funded by the PFA and available exclusively to the union’s former members from the men’s and women’s game.

It forms part of a wider slate of new PFA projects designed to give members the practical tools to succeed both during and after their careers. It also represents a growing focus from the players’ union on easing members’ transition out of the game, and the connection between physical and wider personal wellbeing. 

In the last 12 months the PFA has also launched its new Business School which equips players to go on to a range of off-field careers in the game. The union also held its first summer pre-season training camps for out of contract players, many of whom then went on to secure new deals with league clubs.

Former Leicester City captain and Premier League winner Wes Morgan, who is also an elected member of the PFA Players’ Board, took part in the first RECONNECT session in March at Loughborough University. 

Reconnect session 1

Morgan said:

“A lot of players that I speak to who have recently retired struggle with finding what to do next.” 

“The routine they are so used to gets taken away at retirement, and they can feel slightly left in limbo.

“The benefit of the RECONNECT sessions is that they’re structured, which helps massively. The physical side is all taken care of, and so former players get the opportunity to catch up with people they’ve not seen in a while, and maybe have played with in the past.”

PFA CEO Maheta Molango, who has overseen the introduction of the project, says that the RECONNECT initiative fits into a wider ambition of the union to provide hands-on support to players at all stages of their careers.

Molango said:

“The physical impact of moving away from full-time football is often overlooked, but it can have big knock-on effects at what is often a really challenging time for players. 

"Players spend years in structured training environments. Because it’s your job you can often take it for granted, but when you retire, you are suddenly left to look after your own fitness and exercise for the first time.

“The PFA's RECONNECT network will give members who have recently retired a structured fitness resource that can help them build and maintain new exercise habits during this stage of their life and career.

“It’s an opportunity for former players to connect with each other in a social environment, and to speak to the PFA to take advantage of the many services and opportunities that we provide."

Victoria Williams

Former Lioness Ellen White, who made over a hundred appearances for England and was a member of the 2022 European Championship-winning team, has also given her backing to the scheme.

White said:

“I think it’s a great project and something that could help a lot of players who are just coming out of the game. When you’re used to training every day and being around teammates it can be a shock to the system when that suddenly stops. 

“I think for a lot of people there is a big link between how they feel physically and how they feel more generally in terms of their wellbeing. 

“Having something to help keep you in that routine and connect you to other former players can only be a good thing.”

Each month, RECONNECT sessions will be hosted at some of the UK’s leading sports universities, with two-hour group gym classes, focused on functional fitness and strength-building, delivered by performance coaches. Sports and recovery therapies like massage and yoga will also be accessible at select RECONNECT hubs. 

The first phase of the RECONNECT programme will launch in early May with initial sessions set to be hosted at universities including Leeds Beckett, Liverpool John Moores, Salford and Hull.

Sessions will be bookable each month via the PFA’s website

Click to discover more about our partners at P3RFORM


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