Players Unions from throughout the world came together at the City of Manchester Stadium last week for the inaugural FIFPro Community Symposium.
The forum outlined how football’s power can contribute to positive social change in the areas of education, anti-racism, social inclusion and health.

PFA Chief Executive Officer Gordon Taylor highlighted the important legacy that football’s social initiatives can leave on the World’s communities.

“Football has an ability to touch people on a level that many institutions simply can’t reach,” Taylor said. “The magic of our game is that it connects with people without regard for race, religion, poverty, age or nationality. When this is coupled with fundamental life skills like education, exercise and inclusion in community activities something remarkable happens. I urge all Unions to work with their members and leave a lasting legacy on the lives of others,” he said.

FIFPro General Secretary Theo Van Seggelen emphasised the important role community initiatives also play in the development of off field skills for players.

“By involving themselves in community programs, footballers not only receive the satisfaction of changing people’s lives, they develop skills that assist their transition into a career when their playing days are over,” said Van Seggelen. “Players posses skills that our game needs to thrive and we must ensure they continue to contribute to the game beyond their playing days. Their wealth of knowledge is often unutilised by the game on their retirement and these community programs provide opportunities for them to remain in football. I look forward to assisting our member Unions in the development of like programs in their local regions,” he said.

Will Hastie, the Australian PFA’s Manager, Player Services and Community Programs, attended the forum on behalf of FIFPro Asia. He spoke about the work that many footballers are currently doing to make a difference in the Asian region.

“It has been fantastic to share ideas and learn from other Players’ Unions at this forum,” said Hastie. “Football brings hope and inspiration to so many people in the Asian region and the Players’ Unions play a significant role in making this happen. The efforts of FPAI President Baichung Bhutia in both establishing the Indian Sports Foundation and supporting many worthwhile causes is a great example of this. The Australian PFA also delivers a football values based schools program that involves PFA members mentoring Australian school children. I know that footballers will continue play a key role promoting health outcomes and the provision of education to millions in the region,” he said.

Hosted by England’s PFA, the forum included key note presenters and workshops with the 27 FIFPro Members in attendance. Sessions were also held with external organisations Show Racism the Red Card, Coaching for Hope, Kids Taskforce and Balls to Poverty.