For the first time, the PFA has extended a vital service to former professional footballers to proactively detect and treat skin cancer, including melanoma.

Through the PFA’s partner Spotscreen, skin cancer screenings were provided to members of the PFA’s Past Players Program in Perth last month, with Glory’s former players and current coaches Richard Garcia and Chris Coyne and former W-League player Elisa D’Ovidio participating in the screenings.

All current A-League and W-League players have access to skin cancer screenings with early intervention offering the best chance of a cure.

For the past five years, the PFA has partnered with various skin cancer screening services to ensure football remains a safe sport for its participants and encourages PFA members to take a proactive approach to their health and undertake regular skin cancer checks.

Spotscreen’s state-of-the-art screening technology scans suspicious moles, allowing accurate analysis for signs of skin cancer.

While sunscreen and clothing helps individuals to stay safe while training and playing during summer months, regular skin checks are critical to ensure early intervention.

“For us these screenings are really important, they are a great way to engage with our past players and reengage with them and educate them on the importance of getting screened every year,” PFA Past Players Program Manager Robbie Gaspar said.

“They [the past players] did spend a fair amount of time out in the sun and they currently still do and making sure that they are remaining vigilant when it comes to their skin [is important].”

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Chris Coyne commenced his career with Perth SC before playing a significant portion of his career overseas during cold winters in the United Kingdom. It was only when he returned to play 32 matches for Perth Glory in the A-League between 2009 and 2012 – with much of the season played in summer – that he realised the importance of protecting himself from the sun.

“Being in Europe from such a young age you didn’t really think about it [sun protection]. It was only when I came back to Glory that all the boys were putting zinc on and whacking suncream on. It was only a week into [pre-season] that I realised you needed to slip, slop, slap.

“I think it’s ignorance sometimes that you they’re going to be fine and it’s only when people in your family or others are affected, you realise the implications of what the sun can do.

“I think [the screenings are] fantastic because if you’re not poked or prodded, you don’t do it and you just take it that ‘you’ll be right’.”

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Former W-League player Elisa D’Ovidio, who played at Glory between 2008 to 2015, shared Coyne’s sentiments about the importance of the PFA encouraging past players to undertake annual screenings.

“It’s really great [the PFA] are looking after past players as well because once you get into work life and personal life [after retirement] you tend to forget to do check ups and book the appointments so I’m really grateful the PFA are doing this,” D’Ovidio said.

Further screenings will be delivered by the PFA across Australia in 2021, while others will be rescheduled following the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions.

More information on the PFA Past Players Program:

The PFA Past Players Program supports PFA members beyond their playing days. Through the program the PFA is committed to ensuring all past players have access to expert support in the areas of career and wellbeing.