Australia’s professional footballers have pledged to make a positive impact in their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic by supporting #PlayForLives, a campaign designed to assist volunteers across the country.

While football observes a near-global hiatus, Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) members will help many not-for-profits and charities in need of urgent support through #PlayForLives.

PFA Life Member and former Chair Craig Foster, the architect of the campaign, is aiming to mobilise Australia’s sporting community to occupy thousands of now-vacant volunteer positions across the nation.

The initiative was launched in response to COVID-19’s impact on Australia’s essential service organisations, which have lost a significant number of volunteers who sit within the coronavirus ‘at-risk’ age bracket of over 65.

Through Be Collective, a digital platform that encourages support for community action and social change that powers #PlayForLives, PFA members will be able to browse and select volunteer opportunities.

Players will be able to assist charities such Meals on Wheels, the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre and Big Issue Street Soccer. 

“Australia’s professional footballers have taken it upon themselves to step up and provide support to vulnerable people in our community and particularly homeless Australians doing it tough,” Foster said.

“Some might physically volunteer, while others will pick up the phone and check in on someone in need in their local area or State.

“Although not playing on the field, PFA members will make a direct contribution to seeing everyone through and this is wonderful to see.”

As the campaign builds momentum, #PlayForLives expects more organisations to become involved, expanding the opportunities for players.

Brisbane Roar’s Jamie Young said the #PlayForLives campaign would give players the opportunity to give back to broader society at a crucial time.

“Australians are craving connection to their communities right now,” Young said. “This might be a small gesture, but we can play such a vital role in lending a hand to those most in need during this time.”

Sydney FC’s Ally Green is equally excited to make an impact.

“When we play football, so many people turn up to support us, so I think it’s really important we support the vital work that is being undertaken in the community at the moment,” Green said.

“Luckily there will be many ways for PFA Members to put their energy and goodwill to the best possible use.”

Through the Be Collective platform, players will be able to build their own social record and measure the impact the PFA is having on the broader community during this time.