More Hyundai A-League and Westfield W-League players than ever before are undertaking off-field education and skill acquisition courtesy of Education Grants from Professional Footballers Australia (PFA).

A record 110 players will access PFA Education Grants via the FFA/PFA Collective Bargaining Agreement, which includes 38 players undertaking Bachelor degrees, six doing Masters degrees, while one player is in the process of completing a PhD.

“We are very proud that through the CBA we have been able to invest in the futures of over 100 players, ranging from players on minimum wage to those representing Australia on the international stage,” said PFA Chief Executive John Didulica.

“Acquiring new skills isn’t about having a Plan B. In fact, a global analysis of the best performing football clubs and programs in the world tell us that prioritising the holistic development of players is fundamental to individual player success.”

“By incentivising players to undertake some kind of study or find a purpose beyond the pitch, coupled with the assistance of PFA Player Development Managers, we can empower players to make decisions that will positively influence their careers, their lives and, more generally, football in Australia.”

PFA President Alex Wilkinson heralded the figures, of which a third of A-League players are currently engaged in some type of formal training or study.

“These numbers highlight the work, dedication and investment by the PFA in supporting players and reinforcing the importance of leading a balanced life, which includes having an eye on life after playing,” said Wilkinson.

“Players are increasingly aware of the transient nature of their career and to see so many using the education grants is brilliant.”

Matildas star defender Steph Catley, who is undertaking a Bachelor of Education, is one example of a player making the most of the opportunity.

Catley is among 21 per cent of W-League players currently supported with PFA education funding in what is the first time players have accessed the fund since the signing of the W-League Collective Bargaining Agreement.

“For the PFA to have education funding available to W-League players and to see the number of players taking up on it is a great sign,” said Catley.

“Studying provides that outlet away from football and helps to set you up for that time when you eventually finish playing, so I’m grateful for what the PFA has put in place to aid players.”

The Newcastle Jets and Perth Glory are the clubs with the highest tally of players supported by PFA education funding, with almost half engaged in off-field development.