Preparing for life after professional sport is never an easy transition, for any elite sportsperson. 'Playonpro' and 'REDSTRIKE' are therefore delighted to announce a ground-breaking partnership, providing retiring sportsmen and women with a unique support network to identify new career opportunities, connect with each other and work with grassroots sporting academies around the globe.
The support network Playonpro, set-up by former England, Nottingham Forest, Arsenal and Man Utd defender Viv Anderson MBE, provides retired elite athletes with access to a network of like-minded former professionals, many of whom understand the challenges faced by sportsmen and women when the final whistle blows on their playing careers.
A key element of that support is making former elite athletes aware of new career and commercial opportunities – opportunities similar to those created following Playonpro's pioneering partnership with REDSTRIKE.
REDSTRIKE is the International sports marketing agency behind one of the world's leading Elite Football Academies in Vietnam, working with Red Devils' legends Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes to develop the country's brightest young football talent. REDSTRIKE Elite Academies provide sporting stars of the future with state-of-the-art facilities in their own country, as well as access to full-time staff, including managers, coaches, former players, sports scientists and nutritionists.
The partnership between 'Playonpro' and 'REDSTRIKE' will provide a host of ex-professional players, coaches and managers with opportunities to extend their careers, working with Elite Academies to help develop football talent in emerging markets. The long-term goal is to see national teams from emerging markets qualify for major tournaments, such as the 2030 FIFA World Cup.
Playonpro founder Viv Anderson MBE, said: "When their playing careers are over it can often be a huge shock to the system for former elite athletes. Not only do they have to adjust to life outside the game, they also have to adapt and manage their finances, according to their new lives.
"The statistics show – it's not an easy transition. I set up Playonpro to help support top-level footballers and athletes when they retire. It's a support network of peers, who understand and can relate to the challenges professional sports people face when they have to give up the game. But it's also about keeping them busy; maintaining their value and helping them to forge slightly different careers.
"To that end, the partnership with REDSTRIKE will offer up a wealth of opportunities for our ambassadors to work within the Elite Academy set-up. Exciting times ahead!"
Ex-England and Everton star, and now Commercial Director of Playonpro, Trevor Steven, commented: "Having lived in the Middle East for the last six years, I have seen their passion for football first-hand. It's getting stronger every year, with grassroots academies popping up everywhere. The REDSTRIKE Elite Academy project, in partnership with Playonpro's stable of over 300 ex-professional players, coaches and managers, will take this development to new levels, helping emerging countries to compete at the top table of football.
"Our Playonpro ambassadors are perfectly placed to share their wealth of experience and knowledge and help fulfil the footballing aspirations of the region. We can't wait to start working with the REDSTIKE Academy projects across the Middle East."
Ex-England goalkeeper David James, who is a Playonpro ambassador, believes there are huge opportunities in India, too. The former Liverpool player, said: "I'm currently managing in the Indian Super League and have been involved in Indian football since 2014. I've seen the appetite for football increase dramatically across the region.
"Just as I have applied my knowledge and experience of playing and coaching in the English game to benefit players in India, the huge breadth and depth of experience of Playonpro ambassadors will be essential in developing the Elite Academies in Asia."
Viv Anderson can't wait to team up and work with the Elite Academy programmes: "With FIFA expanding the World Cup Finals to 48 teams the sport is becoming truly global, with more and more nations being given the chance to compete at the highest level. Elite Academy programmes in these emerging countries will create opportunities and, with the experience of our Playonpro ambassadors, help to unearth and develop the next Messi, Neymar or Pele!"
Ex-Manchester United International Managing Director and REDSTRIKE CEO, Mike Farnan, is very excited about this strategic partnership: "This gives the Elite Academy programmes access to some of the biggest names in world football, putting us in a unique position to help develop the sport in emerging markets. However, the Elite Academy model isn't just about football – we're also running projects in other sports, including rugby union, rugby league, golf and cricket."
Farnan added: "The joy and enthusiasm that Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes bring to our Vietnam Academy encourages so much positive energy. To the see the boys' and girls' reactions when Paul and Ryan take to field to coach – they excel and want to impress. They have a great opportunity to chase their dreams and follow in their footsteps."
It's not just young players that will benefit from REDSTRIKE and Playonpro's Elite Academy programmes. Playonpro's ambassadors will also lend their time, experience and knowledge to enable local coaches to develop, too.