A career in professional football is a dream come true for many, but it's also a journey with a finite timeline. To ensure a smooth transition when your playing days are over, it's crucial to start preparing for life beyond the pitch early in your career. In this guide, we'll discuss how professional footballers can lay the groundwork for a successful post-athlete career and how their personal brand can help them do it.
Education and Skill Development
Professional football demands rigorous training, regular matches, and extensive travel - leaving players with limited time for academic studies. Balancing the demands of training, matches, and coursework can be a logistical challenge. But also the switch between football and academic work can be mentally exhausting. Some football clubs and educational institutions provide support for professional athletes, making it easier to divide the workload and more attractive to athletes to pursue their educative objectives.
Doing a full-time or part-time study whilst playing creates great opportunities for players. It provides a person with knowledge they can use in their day-to-day lives, it can set them apart from other professional players and it opens doors to various career opportunities outside of football. Professional athletes are already very skilled in things like time management, discipline, working in a team, determination and are dedicated to their objectives. By adding an educational layer, a player develops even more skills to build their resume and become more attractive to potential employers.
Building a strong network can be invaluable in your post-athlete career. Knowing and being connected to people who are working in the same line of business you are interested in, gives you more visibility at the moment you are looking for job opportunities.
Connect with professionals in industries you are interested. These could be your teammates, coaches, club staff, people with the same educational background, companies with which you share personal values or are any other person who could help you in your future career.
These relationships can be build by attending networking events, through already existing connections or by being active on business platforms like LinkedIn. LinkedIn can be seen as your professional resume and an easy way to reach a lot of people with a business mindset. Not only can you share your educational achievements, you can also share stories about your routines and habits in how you achieved success. Personal experiences, motivational stories and posts about personal development are a very good way to increase your visibility and create a professional network.
There will be many appearances in media interviews and other communication activities during an athlete's professional career. Whether it is in articles, TV shows, documentaries, club or sponsor videos, an athlete is always in the picture. These interviews are moment in which a player has the opportunity to portray herself in a professional manner, whilst expressing her personality. The way you present yourself in these interviews can be a key moment in securing the next step in your career. Showing communication skills, professionalism and some of your unique personality traits can help you stand out. You never know who is watching!
Internships and Work Experience
We already mentioned education as one of the things that could be very helpful when preparing for future job opportunities. Although this looks good on your resume, by the time your professional career is over, there will be a lot of people with the same education, but with more actual work experience. Internships or part-time jobs are great ways to gain work experience during their playing career, which will provide them insights into potential post-athlete careers. Seek opportunities in fields that align with your interests and skills.
Mentoring and Role models
You are not the first athlete who seeks for a professional business career after their pro sports careers. Former athletes who have successfully transitioned into post-athlete careers can provide you with advice and tips, they can share their experiences and serve as a role model for your own journey.
Build a Personal Brand
Everything we have mentioned in this article go hand in hand with your personal brand. Building a brand that extends beyond the pitch will show everyone that you are more than just a football player. Communicating your educational background, personal interests, showing your unique personality in interviews and commercial videos, sharing personal stories - they are all part of communicating who you are and what makes you unique. They are all ways to build your personal brand - and with that to prepare yourself for your post-professional football career!
Are you a professional athlete who wants to prepare herself for her post-professional career? We can help you! With our 'Authentic Athlete Branding' program, we help professional female football players with their personal branding. Feel free to reach out to us, we are always open for a call to explain you more about our product or give you some direct tips to grow your brand!