After over a decade playing at the highest level, Golgol Mebrahtu called time on his professional career last year. Now, the former A-Leagues striker’s focus has turned to the next chapter. Mebrahtu has completed a Masters in Business Administration and recently completed a two-week internship at the PFA. During his time at PFA HQ, caught up with Golgol to get an insight into what life after football has been like and what he has planned for the future.

Q: Tell us a bit about what you’ve been up to since retiring from professional football?

Gol: “I’ve kind of seen this point coming a while back and I wanted to always to be prepared for it, so I started my studies a few years ago now, doing my MBA (Masters in Business Administration) and a big motivation for that was the under representation of former athletes in administrative roles in all the different bodies around the game, so that was a big motivating factor for me to pursue post-retirement.

“I got the ball rolling with uni, I got a PFA scholarship and that was extremely helpful. I stopped playing the game last year and since then, it was really just working on completing my MBA, which I did about a month ago and then additionally, doing some extra player development and professional development.

“One of the people who helped me along the road was Rita Mankowska (the PFA’s Head of Player Development). She played a good role in helping me progress and then figure out where I fit in, what I wanted to do. It hasn’t been too long since I stopped playing, but I’ve definitely kept myself busy!”

Q: How have you found the transition? A lot of athletes always talk about how it is tough to go from professional environment into life after sport, but did you find that easier since you had a plan of where you wanted to go once that day finally came?

Gol: “It was easier for me because I don’t have people that depend on me, like kids or a family. So that made it easier for me, as opposed to most people who might not know what they want to do after they’re done playing.

“It wasn’t too hard of a transition for me because one, my mind was focused on my education, and two, discovering what my strengths were and how do I get to where I want to get to. It was a journey that I really enjoyed.

“There are challenges and those challenges are [that] you miss the dressing room, you miss your teammates. But in terms of the game, I feel like I gave it my all, my entire career and so I didn’t feel like I missed anything or I had room left to go.”

Q: When you look back on your career now, is there one highlight that stands out above the rest?

Gol: “That’s a tough one… Because there’s so many that I remember when I made my debut for Gold Coast United… I remember scoring my first goal for Melbourne Heart, on my debut… Signing for Sparta Prague, which was a huge moment in my career. I remember playing for the Olyroos.

“There’s a lot of moments. The moments that are most memorable are the steps that you take to get you to the next level, to the next point in your career and all those steps certainly did that for me.”

Q: Tell us a bit about your two weeks working at the PFA?

Gol: “I suppose how it came about was through Rita, just in discussions that we were having when we caught up.

“A big part of what I want to do in the future is be involved in the administration of the game and keeping that in mind, Rita and I thought it would be a good opportunity to come on board and experience what the PFA is like, where they influence the game, how they represent the players.

“So that’s how it came about and I worked mainly with Brett Taylor (Head of Research & Policy). He is part of the research team and he’s running a couple of projects that I’ve been part of and it’s given me a lot of insight from a non-player perspective into what the game looks like, what revolves around the athletes in our games, all the different bodies that administer the game, so it’s been invaluable experience for me.

“[It’s] one that I’ve really, really enjoyed and it’s it’s hopefully given me even more connection to the PFA because it’s an organisation that has played an important role in my journey as a footballer.”

Q: You speak about the role the PFA played in your journey as a footballer… tell us a bit about that.

Gol: “I have been somewhat in touch with what the PFA have done since my early days. I was at Gold Coast United and that was a time where (former PFA Chair and CEO] Brendan Schwab was very closely in touch with the players. As you can imagine, all the chaos that happened with Gold Coast United.

“So I was grateful that we had the PFA to represent the players and they’ve helped me manage my transition at clubs, they were a resource that I would use to understand what the club is like, what other players are saying about the club that was interested in me and my career.

“But it was really when I was in Europe and I had some contractual issues in countries that are not regulated very well when I first really needed the PFA and they help from a legal perspective and Angela Collins (Head of Legal), and Jon McKain (Head of Player Relations – Men) were the ones that helped me get through that time in a successful manner.

“Since then, there’s been a couple of other moments that have come up throughout my career and they’ve just been an invaluable resource for me, helping me understand how to navigate some of these waters especially when you’re overseas, where the country that you are playing football in might not have the same resources or regulations that we do here in Australia. So the PFA has been an unbelievable representative for me, I guess throughout my career.”

Q: How important is the education piece and tapping into the PFA resources while you’re playing?

Gol: “It’s a fine balance, because when you’re a footballer, especially if you’re ambitious, you have to be all in and so that takes its toll, not in necessarily a negative way, but it takes up a large space of your life.

“However, I think it’s helpful to your footballing career and to your life in general to understand who you are and a big part of that is understanding what your strengths are, what your interests are outside the game and those are things that you can foster from a young age.

“To learn about yourself, to learn about what unique attributes that you have, that you can contribute to the footballing economy or even to the world at large and I think that helps you in your game and your development as a person and your character.

“I think the PFA have their unbelievable resources through their PDMs (Player Development Managers) and that’s something that I would highly encourage all athletes to kind of tap into just if they have an idea, if they have any questions, if they have any vulnerabilities, so something that they can access to to help them grow as a person and that’s been the case for me.”

Q: What inspires you to stay involved in the game?

Gol: “The A-League has gone through several turbulent times and I suppose there was a lot of player frustration throughout those times and how the game was being administered and that was a motivation for me.

“I’ve had a knack for administration which was noticed by people around me from a younger age and so my love for the game and the experiences that I had throughout my career along with my colleagues, was something that made me motivated to have an influence in the game in a capacity where you can actually influence the game.

“So that’s my quest in the future. For now, I’m starting off again as a rookie and looking to get some commercial experiences as I start out my career post-football, but it’s certainly with the intent to be involved in the game in the long run.”