29 January 2020

FA pledges better support for retired female footballers after ex-Chelsea player Rafferty sparks discussion over 'identity crisis'

The FA have revealed they are working in conjunction with the Professional Footballers' Association to launch improved opportunities and guidance for female players to transition smoothly into retirement.

The announcement came after ex-Chelsea player and England international Claire Rafferty spoke out about the 'identity crisis' she experienced following her retirement and how there was a 'serious gap in player care'.

She admitted that she was 'embarrassed' for how she felt but that finding a role in the media and as a non-executive director at Lewes, and the hard work surrounding these roles, has helped her move forward.

Using examples like Rafferty's, an improved framework, which has already been implemented at senior England level, is set to be introduced within the next few months in a bid to help players with things such as education planning, tax advice and pension provision.

David Faulkner, head of performance for futsal and both para and women's football at the FA, told The Telegraph: "The professionalism of the Barclays FA Women's Super League has placed a continued emphasis on ensuring that our support is not just technical and physical."

He added: "(Players need) social, educational and psychological guidance that players require for life in and out of football.

"We want players to adopt the mindset of looking at the long-term, not just the next football match."

Faulkner continued by giving details of what it is exactly that they are looking to focus on but acknowledged that it is not something which will change over night.

"Areas such as taxation advice, private pension provision, career planning and education options outside of football are all areas that players are now highlighting they require support with" he said.

"This whole area will continue to evolve alongside the growth of the game - it is not a quick fix."

He made sure to highlight the importance of the support scheme, dubbing it a 'strategic priority' and ensured that they were collaborating with the PFA and clubs in order to "develop performance lifestyle support for the women's and girls' game'.

Changes have already been introduced at lower levels, with connections being made between the WSL, local colleges and Sport England's Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme.

Faulkner said: "It is hoped that the framework will be used by players, parents, and education and football staff to highlight all of the opportunities available, whilst pinpointing the support services required at key points in time."

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