The Malta Football Players Association (MFPA) has introduced the After Career Consultation initiative with 10 former Maltese footballers participating in the initial programme held in recent months.
Developed by FIFPRO (Football Players Worldwide) in 2018, the After Career Consultation is intended to improve the health and quality of life of former footballers who retired within the last 10 years. This unique programme enables former players to identify their potential current and future health challenges and provides them with advice, prioritising aspects such as detraining, diet, mental health and joint pain. It is based on the following four main elements:
• Health-related educational material
• Medical examination with possible further health assessments
• Potential advice
• Health monitoring over time (optional)
The medical consultation sessions were conducted by renowned sports doctor Dr David Attard who lauded the initiative. “Health support for players who have retired from football had been largely overlooked as we tend to focus on the active players but once you stop playing, there is less attention,” Dr Attard said.
“There are a lot of positive things in professional sport but there can also be issues and we know of several athletes who have had heart and other health difficulties, including mental problems. This programme looks at these important aspects.”
Former Malta defender Brian Said, one of the 10 participants of the MFPA’s After Career Consultation, highlighted some of the benefits of this programme. “The After Career Consultation is a very good initiative. When you start getting older, you need to do more medical check-ups and this is why this consultation was very useful as it enabled me to assess my current physical and health condition. You need to be more disciplined now than when you are still active as a footballer.”
Similar views were expressed by two other former Malta players, Ivan Woods and goalkeeper Andrew Hogg who called time on his football career recently.
Woods said: “When you are playing, you pay a lot of attention to the health and nutritional aspects together with the amount of training but when you stop, the tendency is to slow down. These sessions allow us to monitor our health during a very important phase of our life when it’s even more essential to keep track of our health and well-being.”
Describing the consultation session with Dr Attard as “very professional and thorough”, Hogg stressed the importance of addressing the mental health aspect. “I can understand how the mental health aspect can factor in when one day you are playing and one day you are not,” he said. “We are talking of different identities. I’ve experienced this myself – one day I’m Andrew Hogg the footballer, the next day I’m not.”
Apart from Said, Woods and Hogg, the other former football players who took part in the first After Career Consultation sessions are Roderick Bajada, Reuben Gauci, Carlo Mamo, Josef Mifsud, Alex Muscat, Gareth Sciberras and Stephen Wellman.
Encouraged by the very positive response for this initiative, the MFPA is planning to launch the second After Career Consultation programme in the coming months. For further information on the MFPA activities and initiatives, one may send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.