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Financial Literacy paramount to players

The AFL Players’ Association Financial Literacy program adds to the already substantial list of programs our association delivers for AFL players.

While the Association is probably best known for our role in negotiating the Collective Bargaining Agreement and for representing players in disputes, the issues of player welfare, health and safety and professional development for the young men who come into the game is really important to the Association’s work.

This new program – an education, support and training program to assist our members in managing their financial affairs is a really fantastic addition to the programs we offer players.

‘It is important to understand the majority of our members start their careers coming straight out of high school’

When the Players’ Association was founded 40 years ago, those who led the charge wanted the game to become more professional. In many respects, the founding fathers of the ‘PA – men such as ‘Swan’ McKay and Geoff Pryor – would be proud of the fact that footy has become a full-time occupation and players are well-supported financially.

Well supported financially – to the point that when the ordinary punter thinks about present day AFL players and money they no doubt see dollar signs.

And it is true that our players are a fortunate and privileged group, who are earning above the odds compared to most young men their age.

However, it is important to understand that the overwhelming majority of the players don’t have the million dollar contracts that make it to the back page of the newspapers.

It is important to understand the majority of our members start their careers coming straight out of high school – and interestingly we surveyed first year players at our Induction Camp earlier this year and the results showed while fewer than 1 in 10 first year players agree that dealing with money is stressful, only half of all responses to the financial literacy test were answered correctly.

It is also important to remember the average player lifespan is under six years in the industry.

So it is imperative our focus is to ensure players are maximising their opportunities throughout their time in football, and all clubs are thinking holistically and consistently about the possibilities available to players.

The Club environment is all consuming – it is much more than just an employer for many of the players. Our members are very young when they first become professional players, and many of them move a long way from home and family to play for the club that they get contracted to. They receive a lot of support and are surrounded by people whose job it is to watch out for their wellbeing so they can focus on achieving on-field sporting excellence.

This environment can mean that some players don’t become as independent as many of their counterparts at the same age in the non-sporting workforce. They can believe that the club protection and support is indefinite.

It is these issues that have led the ‘PA to work closely with our partner AMP to deliver what we believe is a world class Financial Education and Literacy Program.

AMP delivers superannuation to our members, and it is through this relationship that we developed the program for educating the players about financial matters.

The program covers the basics of financial literacy;

–        How to manage your money and plan for the future.

–        How to budget, what your risks are, what insurances you might want, how important superannuation is.

–        How to think about the long term – building assets, understanding liabilities.

Ironically, after spending the best part of four decades making sure players are well-supported financially in their profession, our focus now is on managing their money whilst in the game to better prepare players for their transition out of it.

I am sure there are many past players who wish they had the forethought to do this planning themselves when they started their careers.  I certainly know of many footballers who wish they had been smarter with their money earlier.

That is why this program is so important and I am very proud to be part of the team at the Players’ Association delivering this service to our members.