Record numbers of PFA members have been supported with Education Grants during the past 12 months, as players continue to embrace personal development on and off the pitch. 

Over 200 grants have been allocated by Professional Footballers Australia (the PFA) to players engaged in educational or vocational pursuits since June 2017, assisting with players’ off-field education, skill acquisition and development.

It represents the largest number of grants awarded by the PFA through the Collective Bargaining Agreement and is triple the number allocated the previous season. The range of players who access the grants continues to grow, with 43 W-League players opting in for the first time.

The latest provision of 94 grants, adding to the 121 awarded last December, demonstrates an increasing number of players are enrolled in Bachelor or Masters Degrees, Diplomas, short courses, coaching courses and language classes.

PFA Chief Executive John Didulica said the significant uptake in the last two rounds of Education Grants was an encouraging sign that holistic player development is an integral component within high performance.

“It’s incredibly rewarding to see players in record numbers pursuing personal development outcomes to complement their professional careers,” Didulica said. “We firmly believe that balanced development produces a myriad of positive outcomes for our players and it is vital their interests and ambitions are supported.

“From our perspective the grants are an investment; there is clear evidence when you analyse the best football clubs and programs globally, that the development of players via continued learning produces balanced citizens and better footballers.”

PFA President Alex Wilkinson welcomed the news, encouraged by the number of players accessing grants through the PFA’s investment.

“It’s pleasing to see such a significant uptake from players across the A-League and W-League. It clearly demonstrates more players than ever are engaged in formal or informal study, which provides massive value for them personally, including improved life balance and psychological benefits.”

Newcastle Jets defender Jason Hoffman, a recipient of the PFA’s Education Grants, is studying Sports Management through a Bachelor of Business.

Hoffman said his degree provides an opportunity to build his prospects following his playing career, while providing time away from the rigours of professional football.

“I’ve found studying such a rewarding outlet; it’s helped me build my knowledge of the sports industry, helped develop my learning and broaden my horizons. Hopefully it sets me up well for life after football, which is something as professional players we always have to look towards.”

Applications for 2018/19 Education Grants will open later this year via the PFA.