Minister Micheál Martin announces funding for welfare officer to aid young Irish footballers in Britain
The Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin TD has announced that the Government is to part fund a welfare officer for young Irish footballers who fail to make the grade at professional soccer in Britain.
Funding for the post will be shared between the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Football Association of Ireland and follows growing concern at the plight of young players who don’t succeed in the professional ranks and suffer ongoing hardship through lack of education and training.
In an average year, 50 young Irish footballers are contracted to play with British clubs. But according to a recent study carried out by the Professional Footballers Association (PFA), 85% subsequently fail to make the grade as professional footballers.
Minister Martin said: “Professional football is a tough world – and for every rising star, hundreds fail to make it.
“For those that don’t succeed, life can be uncertain and cruel. Many who are let go by their clubs often experience considerable social and economic problems ”.
“When the FAI approached the Government regarding part funding a welfare officer to work in Britain with these young people, we felt it was a natural addition to the work of our Irish Abroad Unit which helps Irish communities and welfare groups in the UK. Last year we provided almost €11.5 million, 90% of it in the form of welfare.”
The Minister said the new post would go to a qualified welfare officer who would liaise with British soccer clubs. “His or her function would be to ensure that the welfare needs of these young footballers are met. This officer would fill a number of roles, providing ongoing guidance and support to footballers and their parents, and working progressively with clubs and relevant agencies to ensure players’ welfare and education needs are addressed.”
The overall annual cost of the post would be €100,000 in total.
11th May 2008