Melbourne Victory Championship winner Roddy Vargas goes 1v1 with the PFA to discuss life post football, how he is using football to make a difference in the community and why former players have so much to give to the game.

Q. Your professional career came to an end in 2012; what were those initial months like for you?

RV: To be honest the first three to six months were very new to me as I had never been in that position before, I had always played football as my job and it was a strange place to be in as I didn’t know what was next. I kind of just fell into what I’m doing now, as my wife sent an email to the guy that runs the street soccer program for the Big Issue and I meet with him and he presented an opportunity to work in prisons running a soccer program and it was something I jumped at.

Q. You being released by the Victory came as shock to many; was it for you also?

RV: That is the reality of not only being a footballer but of being a sports person. I think when you are in the industry you are always so focused on your next contract and the next game that you really don’t think about life after football. Football was my whole life it was my priority and when I finished it happened really quickly and I was hoping to play a lot longer.

Thankfully I learnt a lot from my time in professional sport, which helped my transition into the workforce. You learn so much that holds you in good stead. The things you do as a professional athlete are not that dissimilar to what people do in the workforce.

Q. What was it like to go into a prison environment initially?

RV: The one thing that a lot of A-League players don’t realise is how big your profile is. I finished three seasons ago and I still get recognised as a former Melbourne Victory player. When I went into the prison they recognised me as a Victory player and that helped a lot. That meant that they had respect for me. I had to get used to not being in an elite environment and that took some time for me also.

Q. How big of an impact do you think it has had on the inmates being involved in the program?

RV: It has had a massive impact. I have been doing it for two years now and they love it. We run tournaments for the guys now, with outsiders coming in to play games with them. We have had the Melbourne City guys come in to play and the guys have loved that the players have taken the time to come out, it gives them a real buzz. It is not just kicking a ball round, they are meeting new people and keeping healthy and fit and that is something that is really important and really positive.

Q. How important has your work been for you?

RV: It has gives me an opportunity that I may not have had otherwise and I have made a lot of friends. I also do some community coaching with young kids and it is great to see so many young kids wearing A-League jerseys.

Q. Are you surprised at all by how far the A-League has come?

RV: I was one of those people that always thought there was huge potential for the game. I think the A-League went about things the right way and the standard gets better every week.

Q. Finally, how important do you think former players can be in growing the game?

RV: I think if you look at AFL and Rugby they do very well in keeping former players involved as they recognise how important it is for the game. Melbourne Victory also do it quite well. They are part of the history of the game and they all have a lot to give, they just need the opportunity.

Each week the PFA will go 1v1 with a current or former member to gain an insight into their life on and off the pitch.