Career Planning and Player Development

In 2018, 31% of surveyed professional football players reported the highest level of formal education they had completed was the Junior Certificate. In 2019, 44% of those surveyed said they weren’t prepared for life after football. PFA Ireland are committed to ensuring that its members are afforded the opportunity to develop to their full potential in a professional and supportive environment.

With the support of the FIFPRO Mind the Gap initiative, the PFA Ireland Player Development Service aims to support professional football players in their career, education and personal development. The aim of the Mind The Gap project is to ‘close the gap’ between the end of the professional sporting career and entering the labour market by enabling a transition into a second career of the professional player in transitions’ choice which is as relevant and satisfying for the professional player in transition as possible.

Dr. Emma Burrows was appointed as the Player Development Manager in 2019. She joins the PFA Ireland on the back of 10 years competing, coaching and officiating in Irish basketball and 4 years coaching Irish American Football. She is the Assistant Head Coach for the Irish Wolfhounds Flag Football team, the national Irish American Football team. She completed a BSc. in Sport Science and Health in 2013 during which she conducted award winning research on coaches’ attitudes to mental health issues in athletes. She completed her doctoral studies on the career transitions of Olympic and Paralympic athletes in DCU in 2019 while lecturing on contemporary issues in sport psychology such as doping, aggression, and career transitions.

 If you are a member and want to access any of the below listed services please get in touch with Emma by email

 I have used the service with Emma to create a plan for after football. I have had meetings set up by her with Professionals in the industrys that interest me which have been brilliant and really helpful.I think its a brilliant service that is really beneficial to any player at any stage of their career. - Ian Bermingham



Available Services:

One to One Coaching

Step 1. Explore: In your first meeting the PDM will ask you questions about your work experience outside of football and what other interests you have. If you don't already have a clear vision of your career interests, you'll be given a short online quiz to take which lists tasks associated with different jobs and matches you with different jobs based on your interests. From the list of jobs, it creates you will pick 3-5 to research. You will look up things like salary, education and the required experience on websites like and

Step 2. Plan: Planning involves investigating education pathways for the job you want, and how to gain relevant experience in the area. Factors you will consider include whether online, in-person or a blended education option suit you best and whether you meet the entry requirements for study. Other things to consider are how long is left in your playing career, how much time you can commit to upskilling and the cost. You might also speak to someone who already does the job you're considering so you can gauge what experience you might need.

Step 3. Execute: Executing your plan will be an ongoing process with the PDM. You will brainstorm potential barriers to you executing the plan and agree set check-in dates to make sure you stay on-track. The PDM will be able to assist you with your time management and the transition into further education. No matter how long it has been since you last wrote an essay or if you've never done a 'real' job - executing the plan is achievable while you're still playing. 

Using the Player Development Manager service was hugely beneficial to me as a professional player and as a professional in the work force. They understand how difficult it is for professional players in this country to balance full time football and a full time occupation. They assess and study each individuals personal  situation and take all commitments into account when helping you apply for a Job that would be suitable to balance with your football. I could not recommend the service highly enough. It is excellent. - Jack Brady


Throughout the year we host career preparation workshops for our members. Examples of some past workshops include Maximizing Social Media with Sinéad Galvin; Nutrition and Cooking with Sport Ireland Institute performance nutritionist David Tobin, and Introduction to Coding with Collie O'Neill of Microsoft. 

I had only previously done as far as my Leaving Cert and wanted to go back to further my education. I was unsure of what avenue I wanted to go down in regards to furthering my education and got in contact with the PFA Ireland. Emma was a massive help and guided me through the process, setting up meetings and phone calls and couldn’t do enough to help me in any area I looked into. I am now starting my course in the next few weeks and the huge help I received was a massive part in my decision and can not speak highly enough of the brilliant assistance I received. - Andy Boyle // ]]>


Mentorship through the Past Players Program

In 2019, 72% of surveyed players in Ireland said they would like to meet a retired player to discuss life after football. As the world of work is becoming more demanding and requires constant change, we want to afford our members the opportunity to discuss and network with those who have journeyed the path before them. The aim of this program is to create a database of past League of Ireland players who have successfully transitioned into new career paths to act as mentors to the current generation. If you are a player who wants to access the mentor network, please contact

If you would have the time and interest to meet and potentially mentor current League of Ireland professional players on their personal development in preparation for their next career please fill in your details below. Once you have submitted the form the Player Development Manager will be in touch with you.

The importance of education and life after football is something every footballer is becoming more and more aware of. Trying to find the right course or path of further education was, for a long time, a difficult thing for many players to discover all on their own. The work and guidance Emma provided led to me finding a course that was perfect for balancing with my career and has opened a number of options for me outside of football aswell, and it was all handled comfortably and easily. - Conor Kearns

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