Certain unconventional skills help former professional athletes after their sport career
Europe is still an incomplete organization that shows several signs of difficulty. The concept of free movement and the exchange programs have contributed to make us perceive it as a unified body more than institutions and financial services, so it is not surprising that sport has become a field of study worth of attention.
It is not a matter of discussing the prospect of continental teams but rather how to make the best of the different practices, support top athletes in an overall – holistic – and parallel way during training and competitions and prevent the risk of them leaving for more tempting offers – especially in the USA.
“Dual careers” prospects
At European level, there are currently no unified initiatives that define this type of career, shared assessment systems or shared supporting plans to be applied before, during and after a sport career. However, in the last few years, discussions (and actions) have increased significantly within Europe and have brought the sport sector into the Erasmus + programs, supported by a general funding that has moved from 22.9 to 34.1 millions euros in 2016. A few months ago, a study of the European Parliament examined in details the prospects arisen from the “dual careers” issue, studying the main features of top athletes careers throughout their trend,
from the first races till after retirement,
besides and beyond
gyms and training grounds
If we consider that fact that today athletes tend to start their career at a younger age, sacrificing even a larger part of their life, we are talking about programs that are meant to cover at least a couple of decades and include a range of initiatives, from study options to psychological help, from tutoring to making future plans beyond sport, from learning internships to higher education. These programs are potentially concerned not only with athletes (the only sport that doesn’t require such a particular attention is football, which represents a field on its own and has its own specific features), but also with “side” professions more or less devoted to any specific field.
A two-speed Europe
Institutions so far have put forth specific guidelines (2012), which highlight the need to find common practices in order to identify athletes’ skills and support them while finding a new job after retirement.
From the comparison of various local examples, it appears clearly a two-speed Europe, where there are plenty of study cases such as the Austrian Karriere Danach, which helps professional sportsmen to get ready for life after retirement, or the Danish Job4player, or other French initiatives that follow closely the overall career of professional sportsmen and facilitate their transition to the job market. Besides these, there are quite opposite situations: countries that lack completely of organized and comprehensive policies that could facilitate the processes of re-integration of these personalities with great skills, such as determination, organization and strategy, learned and strengthened through sport, and today regarded as crucial in the competitive job market.
(translation by Cecilia Braghin)