Arsène Wenger to Lead New PFA Undergraduate Degree for Players

Arsène Wenger has been announced as Course Director for a first-of-its-kind degree programme launched specifically for players by the PFA.

Arsène Wenger has been announced as Course Director for a first-of-its-kind degree programme launched specifically for players by the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA).

Wenger, who is now FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development, will oversee the PFA’s new Football and Business Management BA (Hons) degree, the first undergraduate course to be offered by the PFA Business School.

The three-year programme, beginning in August, will be open to all PFA members and has been created with a focus on players who are in, or have recently left, club academy systems. The course will help equip them with the skills needed to go on to a range of senior on and off-pitch roles within the game and beyond.

The course has been specifically designed to fit within the busy timetables and lives of current players. Uniquely, it will incorporate study for the UEFA B Coaching licence, the FA Talent ID & Scouting Certificate, and preparation for the FIFA Agent License alongside a range of other practical modules including sport finance, law and governance, and performance analysis.

The Football and Business Management degree course, delivered in partnership with the University of Portsmouth, will build on and act as a natural continuation of mandatory age group education that is currently delivered within club academies. The programme will be available with a range of supported funding options, with clubs partnering with the PFA as part of their own focus on the personal development of their younger and u23 age group players.

Arsenal, Chelsea, Newcastle United, West Ham United, Brighton, Crystal Palace, Wolves and Watford are among the initial cohort of clubs to have already signed up to support player participation in the programme, with more to be announced.

Legendary former Arsenal manager Wenger will be joined by a range of renowned international football administrators who will teach modules across the course.

On the launch of the course, Arsène Wenger said: “I worked with many intelligent young footballers in my career who were more than capable of attaining academic excellence off the pitch but were constrained by the availability of suitable courses.

“This is a huge development for this group. For the first time they will have the opportunity to combine their playing commitments with a three-year undergraduate degree, changing the perception that you cannot do the two things at once.

“The programme is not only designed to give students an understanding of the industry, but to deepen their knowledge of the game itself and the various elements that go into performance. I believe the course will help prepare players for the next steps in their lives and careers.”

The degree is being delivered by the PFA Business School, which launched last year and is central to the PFA’s renewed focus on the personal and professional development of members being overseen by CEO Maheta Molango.

Ilkay Gundogan, Phil Jones, Lucy Staniforth, and Steve McManaman are just some of the current and former PFA members who are already taking part in courses ranging from Football Data Analytics to Football Psychology, Emotional Intelligence, and Leadership.

Announcing the new degree programme, PFA CEO Maheta Molango said: “The new PFA Business School has already been a huge success and has shown the appetite among players at all levels to learn and to be ready to go on to new careers and roles within the game. The new degree programme is a natural next step to make sure we reach even more members.

“Personal development is a real focus for the PFA and for me personally. We have a key role to play in providing players with the practical tools to succeed and to flourish both professionally and personally.

“Players shouldn’t be pigeonholed or stereotyped. They often have a unique skillset and a foundation that you simply don’t get in other careers. The PFA Business School is designed to give players the confidence and the ability to use and adapt those skills in future roles inside and outside of football.”

World Cup winner Per Mertesacker, who made over 150 Premier League appearances for Arsenal and now manages the Gunners’ Academy, said: “The new PFA Business School undergraduate degree is an excellent initiative for players and one we’re really pleased to be able to support.

“As a club we have a real responsibility towards the development of all our players both on and off the pitch. We believe the only way to become the best player you can be is by becoming the best person. They are the most important and visible representatives, so it’s right that we invest in them.

“We’ve worked really hard to make sure personal development is a strand that runs through everything we do at every level, starting in the Academy and the Strong Young Gunner ethos.

“The PFA scheme fits with that approach and is a way for players to combine continued learning alongside their football careers.”

PFA members from the men’s and women’s game, who are already taking courses through the PFA Business School, have spoken positively about their experiences.

Ben Davies, of Tottenham and Wales, is studying for a Diploma in Global Football Business Management with the PFA Business School. He said: “The course has given me a greater understanding of how the world of football works beyond the pitch.

“It has been a great opportunity to learn and interact with some of the most successful leaders in our game. It has allowed me to meet and develop relationships with like-minded players and ex-players with the hope that we can continue working with each other.”

Lucy Staniforth, of Aston Villa and England, is also studying with the PFA for a certificate in Football Psychology, Emotional Intelligence, and Leadership. She said: “By learning from individuals who’ve provided both a theoretical and practical perspective, I feel better able to assess the current needs around leadership in the women’s game.

“I feel motivated to ensure that players and staff are getting the support they need, and I hope to use these learnings moving forward in my career post-playing.”

The PFA also recently partnered with Liverpool and England’s Trent Alexander-Arnold on The After Academy, a ground-breaking initiative dedicated to creating new opportunities for former academy footballers and helping them transition to fulfilling careers outside of professional football.

Click here to explore the course.


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