While the recently released Magnificent Seven film is taking the limelight, the PFA’s Newcastle Jets Members have quietly gone about playing their own starring roles off the pitch, with seven set to undertake university courses this season.

Having all utilised the support of PFA’s Player Development Program, the players are undertaking study in a variety of fields, ranging from teaching, to business to electrical engineering.

With PFA members having been provided over $300,000 in the last three years to help support them to pursue off field development, defender Daniel Mullen said the PFA’s assistance had been invaluable as he continued his teaching qualifications.

“I could not speak highly enough of Emily (Figueroa, PFA Player Development Manager) and the PFA for that matter,” said Mullen. “She explored all the options for me. I came to her and discussed what I wanted to do and she looked at all the different options for

me and made it very easy for me to start the transition. Even since I started she has been brilliant – recently she helped me to organise my placement.

Having previously tried his hand at teaching and psychology, fellow Jets defender Jason Hoffman is set to undertake a Bachelors Degree in Business and Sport Management. For the right back, the key to settling on what he wanted to do was the PFA’s Beyond the 90 work experience program.

“It was 100% important in helping to make a decision about what I would study,” said the Novocastrian. “I got to see what it would be like to work a day in the life of someone in that field post career. To go there and experience 10 full days at Nike with great people, it lead me to want to go and train myself up.

“When I first started playing for the Jets in 2007 I was studying PE Teaching and it wasn’t for me. I got a few subjects in and realised it wasn’t something I was passionate about. I come from a family of teachers and it wasn’t something I was passionate about.

I left teaching and started psychology and the same sort of thing happened and I felt like it was not for me.

“I had a good passage away from study and focused on my football and thought something would come to me and recently that happened.”

The push over the line from thinking about doing something away from football to actually doing it is often described as the tough part, but for Andy Brennan the key was finding the course that was right for him.

“Emily and I had many chats last year and we looked at a few course but when she found this course (Bachelor of Business Management) it jumped out at us,” said Brennan. “The biggest push was Emily passing on other stories of players who had said they wished they started sooner.”

Having been part way through a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering before joining the Jets, Lachlan Jackson said the challenge of transferring to a new university had not been straight forward, but was worth it.

“It was a big barrier and you never how much credit you will get,” said Jackson. “If I didn’t do it I would have lost a full year. Emily helped a lot and liaised with the university and helped me to get credit.”

What all four agree on is the positive impact studying has had on their lives on and off the pitch.

“It gives me something else to focus on,” said Mullen. “You might have had a hard week on the training pitch and you can go and focus on something else productive rather than focus on what might be going wrong.”

For Brennan it has given him something to focus his energies on away from football.

“I’m one of those players who likes to reflect a lot on things, but if you dwell on that it can be destructive, so this will be great to help stop me from doing that too much.”

PFA Education Grant Applications are currently open. For more information please contact your Player Development Manager or PFA Player Development Manager Jy Bond via jy@pfa.net.au