Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) today launched the PFA Past Players Program, an initiative designed to better support former professional players and reconnect them with the game.

The Past Players Program aims to address the gap in current support offerings for former footballers and galvanise their connection with the game.

Research published today by the PFA confirms that Australia’s former players continue to face significant challenges after retiring from the sport and require both acute and ongoing support post-career. The research revealed:

  • 70% of players said they found transition to the next phase of their life either difficult or very difficult; 
  • 41% of players rated the support received after transition as very low;
  • 56% of players did not engage in pre-retirement planning;
  • 57% of former players said their retirement from the game was involuntary​; and
  • Only 30% of players gained employment immediately following their careers

Click here to read the PFA’s Retired and Transitioned Players Report

Building on the work of the PFA Player Development Program which has ensured current players have access to world class support and development opportunities, the Past Player Program will ensure Australia’s retired and transitioned professional footballers can access specific programs and services that will assist their transition; including:

  • a dedicated Past Player Manager;
  • confidential mental health and wellbeing services;
  • career counselling referral network;
  • annual past player health days (including skin cancer screenings);
  • coaching accreditation courses (C, B and GK qualifications); 
  • networking events; and
  • career preparation resources.

PFA Co-Chief Executive Kathryn Gill said the PFA’s findings underlined the need for Australian football to create an integrated platform to better support transitioning and retired players.

“Despite there being numerous examples of players transitioning into successful roles within our sport and into broader society post career, the feedback and research is clear; the challenges associated with transition and life after football are immense.

“The Past Player Program is an important step in beginning to tackle these challenges and ensuring retiring and transitioning players receive effective support and build ongoing connection to the game.

“Our aim is to work collaboratively with Football Australia and the Australian Professional Leagues and we have been encouraged by the initial discussions that indicate there is a strong will to collectively advance the program.”

PFA President and Sydney FC captain Alex Wilkinson said the Past Players Program provided an opportunity to connect generations of PFA Members.

“Ensuring that the contributions of our past players are respected and that they are supported in life after football and remain connected to sport is hugely important to the current generation of players.

“We have been fortunate to inherit a game that has made huge steps forward due to the sacrifices and commitment of the players that came before us, so this is a tangible way in which we can recognise that contribution.”

Former Socceroo Brett Holman and former Matilda Grace Gill have been appointed Past Player Program ambassadors and will help shape the current and future services the PFA will provide to players navigating retirement.