The 2019 World Player Development Conference has kicked off today at FIFPro in Hoofddorp, The Netherlands. The conference, co-hosted by the World Players Association and FIFPro, the world footballers’ union, brings together more than 100 participants from 47 countries and 13 different sports. The guiding theme for the conference is “Prepare, Empower, Support: Navigating transitions in professional sport”.
“The professional sporting career is one of continuous transition. The path from rookie to past player holds injuries and relocations, incredible performance peaks but also major disappointments. On this precarious journey the player association remains an important constant providing stability and support. It is therefore essential that our movement is able to offer tailored services for each stage of the career lifecycle,” said Brendan Schwab, Executive Director of the World Players Association.
Over the course of the three-day event, the different transitions will be explored from various perspectives drawing on insights from cognitive-neuroscience, psychology, personal coaching, performance art and the real-life experiences of players and player development professionals. Participants will receive training on communication techniques and wellbeing support.
The conference will also shed light on two cohorts from the fringes of the athletic career: child athletes and retired players. To gain a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by these groups World Players promotes two important research initiatives. “Project CARE: Census of Athlete Rights Experiences” is a pilot study funded by the Oak Foundation and aims to develop a comprehensive measure of the childhood experiences of current professional athletes. The project is led by Gigi Alford, World Players’ Head of Sport and Human Rights, and Dr Daniel Rhind, reader in psychology at Loughborough University and a co-author of the International Safeguards for Children in Sport.
With the aim of better understanding the realities of former players, the conference builds on a literature review of past player surveys published in 2018. Attendees will be asked to consider and improve a set of guidelines outlining key research areas, concepts and best practice to promote greater consistency and comparability of past player research across the player association movement.
The 2019 World Player Development Conference follows similar events in Melbourne 2015 and Paris 2017. At the Paris conference World Players adopted the World Player Development, Wellbeing, Transition and Retirement Standard (Standard), a benchmark for the development, negotiation and measurement of player development and wellbeing services across sport. At the 2019 edition the Standard will serve as a crucial reference point, its promotion and implementation a constant item of discussion.
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