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7th World Player Development Conference: Player Associations worldwide gather to raise standards and increase support for players through every career phase


7th World Player Development Conference: Player Associations worldwide gather to raise standards and increase support for players through every career phase
  • World Players Association and the MLBPA teamed up to host the 2024 Player Development Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. 
  • Over 100 player association staff and leaders attended from 50 Player Associations, 27 countries and more than 15 professional sports. 
  • #PDC24 programme featured three days of player centric workshops on the future of the Player Development Programmes (PDP), best practice in engaging our players, new concepts for the career coaching process, establishing data driven PDP’s and the role of safe and brave spaces we can provide for players.  


The World Players Association, part of UNI Global Union, and the Major League Baseball Players Association hosted the seventh edition of the World Player Development Conference (PDC) in Scottsdale, Arizona from 23 to 25 April 2024.  


The three-day programme brought together more than 100 player development managers and leaders from player associations (PAs) around the world from more than 50 different PAs, across 27 countries, in more than 15 sports. Experts in the field of professional development, personal wellbeing and data-driven, design thinking led sessions on supporting athletes through the entirety of the athletic career.  


“We are constantly finding new ways to help players to improve essential skills such as relationship building, personal development coaching and offering support in sensitive situations,” said Pamela Gilpin, Head of Player Development and Wellbeing at World Players. “We want to share these insights with those on the frontline working with players -especially dedicated player development managers -to help them consolidate their essential roles within Player Associations.”  

After 18 months of planning, the organizing committee delivered a successful 2024 Player Development Conference 2024 with experts in the field of player development and wellbeing from around the world and across different sports.

Player development and wellbeing is a critical aspect of World Players’ work to make unions stronger. The focus of the three-day conference accordingly was “Foundations for the Future: Embracing the Essentials,” with practical insights at its core. 

  • 23 April: Essential elements 
  • 24 April: Changing perspectives on athlete engagement 
  • 25 April: Foundations for the future  

::: Key Takeaways :::  
💡 Maintaining relevance moving forward: How to ensure the content of the player development programmes that we offer are in line with the needs of our players. 

(Ian Thomas, Chris Singleton and Emily Figueroa, hosted by Walter Palmer) 
💡 Engagement with players is key: Skill training around vulnerability and curiosity are important, particularly when working with low-income athletes and athletes abroad. (Jen Martin) 
💡 Plan for future development: How can we best employ data driven player development programmes and incorporate gamification, AI technology and design thinking in our work? (Jay Harrison, Lynsey Williams, Billymo Rist, Gabe Zichermann, Dustin Liu).  
💡 Prioritise creating brave spaces: Understanding the impact of trauma specifically within the male sports environment and methods of enhancing the support provided to athletes who have experienced abuse. (Dr Danielle Moore, Kat Craig) 
💡 Be proactive agents of change: Individuals in the sports community should actively contribute to creating a culture of safety and support for athletes. 

Going strong, getting stronger 


The 2024 World Player Development Conference follows similar events in Melbourne 2015, Paris 2017, Amsterdam 2019, Nyon 2022 and online in 2021 and 2023.  


Chris Capuano, Senior Director Operations, Business and Strategy (MLBPA) 

‘The PDC remindsus of the power of sport to bridge differences and of collective action to create positive change in ways that will benefit our players and members. The dedicated people it brings together transcends geography and sport, and truly reflects the theme of “being the change we want to see” in quite a profound way. The PDC has allowed this to happen and demonstrates what can be achieved by working together. We witnessed and absorbed insightful technical sessions that have expanded our knowledge bases, shared good practice on our player engagement approaches, gained expertise on specific challenges our players are facing and, ultimately, have been energized by mind-expanding sessions that will help us all raise our games as player advocates.’ 


Pamela Gilpin, Head of Player Development and Wellbeing (World Players Association). “The Player Development Conferences bring together the best in the field – the PDMs themselves – to collaborate and elevate their roles in supporting players while lifting the quality and reach of the player development programmes that World Players and our affiliates are delivering to our members.” 


Matthew Graham, Head of UNI World Players said, “Player development and wellbeing is critical to the lives of players in expected and unexpected ways, contributing to areas like career longevity, making empowered end-of-career decisions –whether by force or by choice—and supporting the development of the player as a person all the way through and beyond their careers in professional sport.”  


Graham continued, “For these reasons, and more, Player Associations need to increasingly invest and prioritize player development, enshrining it as an integral part of our core business as a movement, not siloed away from the rest of our work. For many players, PDMs will be their first and closest point of contact with their union, which is an opportunity for Player Associations to have a wider reach among their membership.” 


What’s Next:  


2025 will see World Players organizing an online Player Development Conference that will focus on key challenges, opportunities and changes identified by the PDMs. Whilst the detail is yet to be decided there is great opportunity to further build on some key topics from Arizona.