We’re pleased to announce the launch of our new Dual Career guides, designed to inform girls entering the player pathway, through to women in the professional game, of the career opportunities available to them away from the field (press release courtesy of the FA).

The new guides provide a framework that can be used by players, parents, and education/football staff to highlight all opportunities that are available within education and football, while highlighting the support services available.

Whether it be players in the professional game deciding to study, like Chelsea’s Bethany England (studying law) and Arsenal’s Leah Williamson (accountancy), or those starting out on their football journey who want to know what opportunities exist outside of the game, the new guides are designed to answer those questions.

Each individual’s dual career pathway is different, and the guides provide a support to players in finding the pathway that is most suitable to them.

And we’ve developed the guides with TASS (Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme), a Sport England-funded partnership between talented athletes, education institutions and national governing bodies of sport.

The guides are divided into three separate areas and focus on age groups U14-16, 16-18, and 18+ and can be downloaded below. They cover all football, education, and potential work activities that players may engage in, offering advice on balancing football aspirations alongside education and work.

They also outline key stakeholders that can offer support for players within each specific age-group and provide information on transitions and potential challenges that players may face.

TASS conducted interviews and focus groups with key individuals throughout the women’s football pathway, including players and their parents, football staff at club and FA level, education providers, and other key support services. In total, 103 people were interviewed.

While highlighting the opportunities and support available to players, the outputs of the research identified some key areas of the women’s game that need further exploration and insight:

• Why is there a drop out of dual career while playing football?
• How to address the challenges when facing retirement
• Ensure women’s football is more closely aligned with higher education, supporting players that reach elite status, as well as those that don’t.
• Put dual career at the forefront of the women’s game. Having alternative options to football is important.
• Making sure that the players mental health and wellbeing is looked after and ensure they have balance in their career.

David Faulkner, FA head of performance for women’s professional game, said: “I’m really pleased that we’re able to highlight the immense amount of work that has gone into these guides, but more importantly, how they can better support our players, as well as their parents and respective clubs.

“There are a number of career opportunities that exist away from the field and we have a responsibility to ensure players know about them, whether that’s the 14-year-olds entering the pathway, or our players in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League.

“Ensuring a player has a good life balance is really important for their well-being, and I hope this work will give players a better idea of what is available to them to help achieve that.”

Emma Vickers, TASS national lead for research, added: “The value of following a dual career pathway and the benefits it can have both during and post-sport career are becoming increasingly known in the world of sport. You can download the guides below…

“The FA’s investment in this piece of work highlights the commitment they have to making women’s football a sport where it is possible to succeed in both football and other areas of life.”