By Doug Reed
Preparing for A Life After Playing – Part 2
In Part 1 we explained the reason players should begin planning for their 2nd career as early as possible and identified four misguided beliefs that make players reluctant to do this. In Part 2 we show through examples of players who have gained qualifications that these assumptions should not present a barrier to education.
You don’t have to know exactly what you want to do as there are many educational courses that are broadly applicable and recognised by employers. What being qualified guarantees is more options and there is something out there that will interest everyone.
Manchester City’s Rodri is studying a degree in Management and Business Administration alongside his club and country commitments. He explains “I can't say now what I'm going to do in the future... I'm sure it's going to be helpful in the future one way or another.”
After so long out of school footballers can sometimes fear they aren’t intelligent enough, but they are very quick learners. Vincent Kompany gained a Master's in Business Administration whilst captaining Manchester City but admitted “I had no skills whatsoever, I even taught myself to type.”
Player 4 Player founder Gareth Farrelly had a similar experience when he began studying. “I’d been out of education for 16 years. I hadn’t got an email address, I’d never sent an email. You are petrified. You start off on a new path and you don’t know how it’s going to be.
“I have been very fortunate to have had excellent, continued support from the PFA through my educational journey.” Four years later he graduated and is now a qualified lawyer. With his mistaken fear of education now dispelled, he has developed a dedication to learning. He recently earned a master's degree from UEFA and is currently taking the UEFA Football Law Programme.
Probably the biggest misconception around education is that it will negatively impact on performance on the pitch. This is contradicted by both research and the experience of players.
A study by Professor David Lavallee at Abertay University, Scotland found those that did more pre-retirement planning had better playing career outcomes and it provided them with a competitive advantage.
The players who have actually lived it and undertaken education while playing support this view. Kompany said "You gain more intelligence and can still use it on the pitch...It allowed me to take away a lot of the pressure from my day-to-day job, which is football.”
Tottenham & England’s Eric Dier is pursuing a social sciences degree and agrees. "For me, it is really important to have different things to focus on outside of football. It's nice to have that distraction and be working on and learning different skills.”
It was a similar experience for Chelsea’s England international Fikayo Tomoro who was awarded a diploma in business management. “It is something that I thought would help me with my focus, my mind, on and off the pitch. It keeps me out of trouble as well!”
Middlesbrough’s Duncan Watmore earned an undergraduate degree earlier in his career and found it so rewarding that he began a masters that he recently completed. “Studying also gave me a break. Football’s quite an intense environment and it was something that helped me to switch off when I came home from training.” the former England U21 player said.
“I think that by working hard mentally and physically, you then get the mental stimulus and I have more motivation when I get back to training the next day.”
Studying is not planning for failure but preparing for the inevitable as no playing career will last forever. Football is still the priority for Watmore but his qualifications provide him with reassurance if things don’t go as hoped. “If football all goes well and I make a good career, I won’t need it for a long time. But it is good to know I have got it.”
This is the same for Tamori. “Football is not going to go on forever. When I retire — or God forbid get an injury — then I have something I'm working towards and that can stand me in good stead for the future.“
Player 4 Player Support
Some players will have a rough idea of what they want to do next whether that be coaching, media or something completely outside of football. Others will still be uncertain of what they want to do after they transition out of the game which is understandable and common.
Either way, our founders are ready to help any current or former player find the career and education options that are right for them. They have been in the same position and have the experience of each taking a unique second career path alongside gaining various qualifications.
Footballers retiring from playing can begin a new and exciting stage of their lives if they prepare correctly.