European Survey - Second Career Path
Athletes who train and compete throughout Europe face multiple risks, with many missing out on high quality education and training that could help them prepare for a new career after they retire.
A career in elite sport is short, fragile and time consuming. Most successful sporting professionals will have to retire around the age of 30 and will therefore need to find a new job and role in life. The issues are worse for trainees that fail to make the grade as professionals and for players who suffer a career ending injury. Parameters of the job (e.g. short-term contracts, frequent traveling, etc.), expectations of immediate success and extreme commitment to the profession tend to discourage preparation for life after sport.
SPORT-ENT undertook an international survey of 328 young football players across 6 European national football associations asked players dozens of questions on their attitude towards their second career path.
The survey was designed specifically to gather the opinions of active young football players on their career after they stop playing football. Target group was football players, age between 18 and 30, who are actively playing in professional and semi-professional teams and football leagues.
Data gathering was undertaken using established methodology of questionnaire. An online quantitative questionnaire, targeted at professional/semi-professional football players, was designed in collaboration with Project Partners.
A draft of the questionnaire was subjected to a pre-test, resulting in modifications to the questionnaire both in terms of question wording and length. Twenty-two (22) questions were agreed in the final questionnaire. Common types of questions were used, including multiple choice, rating scales etc.
The questionnaire was translated into 6 different languages. It was accessible on a survey online platform, distributed via e-mail and published on official website of the project, as well as on national associations’ websites. Questions were distributed by the national football associations directly to football players or via football clubs.
Demographic data were gathered, such as country of residence, gender, and age.
Analysis of the survey data obtained in this project shows that for young football players, playing football in professional or semi-professional youth leagues represents a source of income (primary or secondary), which ends together with their football career, mostly after their age of 35.
Football players are interested in becoming entrepreneurs, whether as specialists/experts or running community programmes, educational programmes, or non-profit organisations, becoming investors in start-ups or innovating products, services, and technologies. Most of them had already considered to become entrepreneurs after their football career and it is recommended to provide the players the possibility to start entrepreneurship also simultaneously, along with their sports careers.
The clubs do offer support regarding follow-on career advice, but a special mentoring support to help players understand their employment options when they stop playing professional football would be recommended.
It would be recommended to provide a course/training for football players on the topic of entrepreneurship, to help players towards a possible professional alternative or to be able to approach the sports field from a business perspective. It can be concluded that the possibility of professional growth and the option to generate economic income would move the players most to do a training in entrepreneurship.
It is important to ensure that a player can combine their football career and the training in a flexible and effective way, without comprising either objective. In the light of the results of the survey regarding the learning preferences, it is therefore recommended that:
The training is offered as a blended learning, a combination of online and face to face seminars.
The course should last between 3 and 6 months.
Daily investment should be a maximum of 2 hours.
Practical hands on would be recommended learning style, added by visual, audio and reading/writing materials.