Professional Footballers Australia has today launched a major player-driven charity initiative, Footballers’ Trust.

Inspired by the leadership of generations of Australian footballers, Footballers’ Trust aims to create a platform for today’s players to ‘play it forward’ and contribute directly to the causes that inspire them.

The Socceroos have collectively kick-started the work of Footballers’ Trust by pledging nearly a quarter of a million dollars, which the PFA aims to allocate to charitable foundations and footballing initiatives selected by the players themselves.

Socceroos captain Mark Milligan said the players had long considered creating a meaningful and enduring initiative that will deliver lasting benefits to communities, both across Australia and internationally.

Video: Mark Milligan, Lydia Williams and Jamie Maclaren speak about the Trust

“Over the last few years the Socceroos have developed a very tight-knit group of players. We wanted to solidify that,” Milligan said. 

“We’re in a very fortunate situation. The funding for the Trust will come directly from the players and is part of a legacy that this group wants to leave.”

Socceroos striker Jamie Maclaren praised the step, saying he had been inspired by Socceroos teammate Awer Mabil launching Barefoot to Boots, which received global recognition through the FIFPro Merit Award in November last year.

“We have the best job in the world and to rock up and do our job and do what we love is great, but it’s important to give back and feel like you are doing the right thing,” Maclaren said.

“For us to see the position we are in, we are grateful for that, but we are also in a position where we can give back to the community.

“It has also stemmed from the experienced boys and driven by Mark Milligan and the past players like Mile Jedinak and Tim Cahill who all identified an opportunity for past, present and future players to really give back to charities and individualised and collective giving.”

PFA Executive Member Lydia Williams is excited at the opportunities this will present to players and the broader community.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for players to either support a charity of their choice, or create their own charity through the PFA,” Williams said.

“There’s something special about giving back to people who don’t have the same opportunities as us and this is a way to give back and thank those in the community who might be in a less fortunate situation than we are.”

PFA Chief Executive John Didulica said the Trust would create a tangible opportunity for the players’ to directly and positively impact their communities.

“We’re very proud of the players for coming to us with this concept and for wanting to build a voice as leaders within their community,” Didulica said.

“The initial funding gives us an incredible opportunity to start educating a generation of players about the mutual inspiration that comes from re-investing their good fortune back into the community.”

“As the PFA will manage the administration of Footballers’ Trust, every cent pledged will be reinvested back into the community and into initiatives selected by the players. 

“It’s our hope to work with like-minded corporate and community organisations to maximise the positive impact of the players.”

The establishment of Footballers’ Trust continues the work of PFA members taking on positions of social leadership, most recently including the PFA’s work highlighting men’s mental health with Movember, human rights advocacy with Amnesty International Australia exemplified by the #SaveHakeem campaign, funding for Indigenous programs through John Moriarty Footballand driving inclusion programs through Football Empowerment.