• Over $500,000 invested in PFA members since July 2022
  • Education grants and confidential counselling sessions accessed at record levels
  • Coaching courses, scholarships, skin cancer checks, concussion screenings and betting and match-fixing education delivered to hundreds of professional players

The PFA has invested over half a million dollars into the development and wellbeing of Australia’s footballers across the past 12 months, following an unprecedented level of demand in the Player Development Program (PDP).

The investment underscores the PFA’s ongoing dedication to enhancing the lives of professional footballers in the A-Leagues and the Socceroos and the Matildas on and off the field, in partnership with the Australian Professional Leagues (APL) and Football Australia (FA). 

The PFA’s annual PDP Report published today reveals that close to 200 education grants were distributed to players and nearly 800 confidential counselling sessions were accessed by PFA members since July 2022.

Education grants empower A-Leagues and National Teams players to pursue academic and vocational goals alongside their football careers.

196 grants were accessed by PFA members to subsidise University studies – ranging in areas as diverse as forensic science, physiotherapy, nursing, psychology, sports management, and commerce – or to fund other areas of learning and development, including personal training, coding, neurokinetic therapy, public speaking and language lessons.

The PDP also facilitated 773 confidential counselling sessions through its confidential mental health referral network, which represents a 265% year-on-year increase.

The network, delivered by PFA partner The Mind Room, offers a safe space for players to address personal and professional challenges, providing them with the support they need to navigate their lives and careers successfully. 

The Report outlines a range of additional areas of support provided to players via the PDP, including;

  • the organisation and delivery of coaching courses for 53 current and former players in partnership with FA, allowing players to pursue careers within coaching and technical development;
  • the contribution of $10,000 in specialist scholarships;
  • 44 skin cancer checks conducted for Socceroos, Matildas and members of the PFA Past Players Program; 
  • the delivery of concussion, betting and match-fixing education undertaken by 147 first-year A-Leagues players; and
  • the growth of the PFA’s Past Players Program, which has over 300 members, and wellbeing support for the Afghanistan Women’s National Team.

Commenting on the impact of the PDP on Australia’s professional players, the PFA’s Head of Player Development, Rita Mankowska, said:

At its core, the PFA’s Player Development Program is about unlocking the potential of Australia’s professional footballers, supporting their lives, and helping them thrive as athletes and individuals, on and off the pitch.

“Through this incredible year of growth and demand we have been able to invest in players’ wellbeing, education, and career development, at record levels.”

Outgoing PFA President Alex Wilkinson, who served his fellow professionals between 2016 and July this year, said that the PFA continues to play a critical role in supporting professional players.

“The PFA will always be there no matter whether a player changes clubs, enters or exits a national team environment, moves overseas, or retires. The PFA is the one consistency throughout a player’s career,” Wilkinson writes in the Report.

“My challenge to all players is to ensure they learn as much about the PDP as possible as it can only have a positive impact on their health, wellbeing, and professional football careers.”