Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) is pleased to announce a new partnership with UK-based Sporting Chance Clinic which will enhance the PFA’s mental health services available to players based overseas. 

Sporting Chance, based in Hampshire, England, was founded over 20 years ago by former England and Arsenal captain, Tony Adams MBE, and provides mental health support to current and former professional athletes. 

The organisation works with a number of high-profile sporting leagues and organisations including the English Premier League, the English Football Association and the Professional Cricketers Association. 

Through the new partnership, PFA members based in the northern hemisphere, and their partners, can receive emotional or mental health support provided by accredited expert practitioners. 

The PFA’s Head of Player Development, Rita Mankowska, said the partnership would allow over 150 of the PFA’s members based overseas more streamlined access to mental health support. 

“It’s wonderful that we have been able to enhance our service to overseas players and provide access to PFA services in their time zone,” Mankowska said. 

“There has been exponential growth in our members seeking mental health support, so Sporting Chance will assist us in meeting that increasing demand.” 

Sporting Chance CEO, Colin Bland, said: 

“We are delighted to offer our services to members of the Australian PFA playing throughout Europe and, just as importantly, the same support to their partners. 

“Professional sportspeople want to play at the very best level they can and for some this can mean having to live far away from home. At times, it’s likely this will present emotional challenges for both them and their families. 

“We know that a player’s emotional state can have a huge influence on their performance and ability to adapt to new environments. We also know that, like most of us, their emotional state will be affected by their relationships and the people they care most about. 

“My view is that the Australian PFA’s desire to support both players and partners speaks to their want for their members to succeed and I hope that other organisations will follow their lead.

“We understand that asking for help isn’t always easy, particularly in elite sport, but we have been providing confidential support in this space for over two decades and we hope that all Australian PFA members or their partners feel that they can reach out to us if they need us.”

PFA President Jackson Irvine, who is based in Germany with 2. Bundesliga outfit FC St. Pauli, welcomed the new partnership. 

“I know from my experience playing overseas how difficult it can be adjusting to new opportunities and how important having easy access to experts that can help your mental wellbeing throughout your personal and professional journey. 

“Our aim through the PFA is to ensure every player feels supported, so making access to mental health programs easier for those playing abroad has been a priority for the PFA’s leadership group.” 

As revealed in the PFA’s Player Development Program report last year, there is an unprecedented level of demand in the PDP’s mental health services. During the 2022/23 season, the PFA facilitated 773 confidential counselling sessions for its members, which represented a 265 per cent increase, year-on-year. 

Australian-based PFA partner The Mind Room, will continue to provide Australian-based players with a domestic service that can support their professional and personal challenges. 

The PFA has previously worked with Sporting Chance, with Adams delivering an exclusive webinar on his career to all PFA Members in 2021.  

The webinar, which provides insights into Adams’ own challenges during and after his playing career is available to members via the PFA’s Player Development Program Online.  

Sporting Chance Offer for Overseas-Based Members: 

  • Who: All PFA Australian members based in any league or division (including players’ partners) 
  • What: 12 x sessions of talking therapy within a 2-year period, plus consideration for residential admission on a case-by-case basis 

Support can be via the respective PFA Contacts listed below: 

Rita Mankowska
Matildas Player Development Manager

Jon McKain
Socceroos PDM & Overseas Male Player Relations Manager 

Erin Clout
Overseas Female Player Relations Manager