UEFA's new course will help players around the world think about their professional future when the time comes to hang up their boots.
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UEFA has this week launched a new programme to help footballers coming to the end of their playing careers plan for their professional future.
The first edition of the UEFA Assist Career Transition Programme (CTP) kicked off in conjunction with the Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB), offering players based in the Netherlands the opportunity to learn more about their potential next steps after hanging up their boots. Further editions will be rolled out to other nations over the coming months.
The next stage
"At UEFA, we believe it is our duty to guide future former players in the next stage of their lives and make them aware of the variety of other professions available in the football industry," says UEFA president, Aleksander Čeferin.
"This is why we have developed the UEFA Assist Career Transition Programme, to provide guidance to future or newly retired players on the choices available. It provides the essential tools and knowledge they need to prepare the second stage of their careers, while applying the skills they have honed as footballers to their future new job."
Aimed at players approaching or at the end of their career, the five day-course provides the perfect next step to help plan for a bright professional future.
Through one-on-one coaching, roleplaying scenarios and case studies, the CTP gives footballers greater insight into their own skills, how these can be useful off the pitch, and the openings available to them. By the end of this self-exploratory course, participants should have a better understanding of their professional interests so that they can plan their career transition.
Finding the right role
Among the industry experts aligned with the CTP is Davor Šuker – as a player, one of Europe's most feared strikers, and now president of Croatia's Football Federation and deputy chairman of the UEFA National Associations Committee.
"As a player I gained experience on the pitch, in the dressing room and the stadium. I saw football from a wide range of perspectives and learned how to harness the skills of leadership, motivation and teamwork to build a successful career on the pitch," the now 52-year-old Šuker says. "But when I retired, I needed to understand how to use these skills to find the right role for my future.
"I realised the importance of working with mentors and developing my business knowledge to secure the role I am in today. The UEFA Assist CTP will offer you a pathway to the next stage of your career, and with the support of UEFA’s mentors you will better understand where you see your future."
Among the first people to take the course is Claudia van den Heiligenberg, the former Dutch women's international who won more than 90 caps for her country.
"The UEFA Assist CTP programme is really useful if you want to know more about how to use your skills off the field, and how you can translate the talents you have and use them in another area;" she says. "So, you are getting to know yourself outside the field. Who am I when I am not a football player?"
Who runs the CTP?
The CTP was jointly developed by UEFA Assist, a programme which contributes to the global development of football through sharing European knowledge and best practice with UEFA's five sister confederations around the world, and the UEFA Academy, which has helped more than 2,000 graduates from 120 countries gain qualifications geared towards helping them work in the sports industry.
How else does UEFA help players prepare for life after football?
"By supporting professionals in their career transition, UEFA wants to make sure that they can continue elevating the game, helping it to remain the most popular sport in the world, as they did during their career on the pitch," President Čeferin adds.
"Taking the decision to turn the page on your professional career is an important and decisive milestone, maybe even more so when football has been at the very core of your life. This crucial period, that all players face at some point, is also an incredible opportunity to reflect on what the future holds.
"It is the perfect time to explore the various options open to you off the pitch and see what path would be the most suitable for your skills and personal preferences. Luckily, hanging up your boots doesn’t mean you have to leave football behind you. In fact, quite the opposite, as there are many different careers linked to football off the pitch."
European football's governing body runs a series of courses and initiatives aimed at players, through a variety of different platforms, including:
This app was developed alongside former international footballers to expand players’ football and career management knowledge at the touch of a screen. Featuring a wide range of educational modules on different topics, it provides guidance for players at all stages of their career on finance, integrity, anti-doping and options for a second career.
The UEFA MIP is specifically designed for former professional football and futsal players as a next step in their career off the pitch. Seven week-long sessions offer a comprehensive overview of different aspects of the administration and governance of a football organisation. Players not already working within a sports body are also requested to complete a three-month work placement role, providing hands-on and day-to-day experience.
Which former players feature in the CTP video and what do they do now?
Anthony Baffoe - deputy general secretary football & development, Confederation of African Football
Keld Bordinggaard - freelance consultant / CEO, BordinggaardFootball (MIP graduate)
Gareth Farrelly - litigation and sports lawyer, Bermans (MIP graduate)
Peter Jehle - general secretary, Liechtenstein Football Association
Michael Johnson - England Under-21 coach (MIP graduate)
Nadine Kessler - chief of women’s football, UEFA
Patrick Mboma - TV consultant, Canal Plus Afrique (MIP graduate)
Simon Rolfes - sporting director, Bayer 04 Leverkusen (MIP graduate)