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FIFPro aims to receive one hundred applications from new students for the upcoming FIFPro Online Academy school year. The first step was taken this week, as the world professional footballers' association organised a special two-day workshop for interested footballers' unions.

FIFPro welcomed representatives of 22 European professional footballers' associations to its headquarters in Hoofddorp, the Netherlands. The goal of the meeting was to commence the recruitment of new students for the 2014-2015 school year. FIFPro and its project partner, the University College of Northern Denmark (UCN), shared best practices on how to inform professional footballers about the importance of an education and on how to convince them to join the FIFPro Online Academy.

"We had a great workshop", says Frederique Winia, FIFPro Online Academy Manager. "I was pleasantly surprised by the enthusiasm and the commitment displayed by all participants, which created a constructive debate and resulted in many useful ideas".

The FIFPro Online Academy started in September 2011, with 51 students beginning a 'Sport Management' degree course at UCN. This online study gives students the opportunity to login when and where they decide is best, be it from home, at a training camp or anywhere else. With this course FIFPro hopes to prepare professional footballers for their lives after their sporting careers.

Winia has high expectations for next year. "We have seen a steady increase of our student population to include 70 new students in the current class. We hope to welcome 100 newcomers for the 2014-2015 class".

"Next to that, we expect the first students to graduate from our FIFPro Online Academy in 2015. Which is a milestone we are looking forward to".

During this week's workshop, three of the current students shared their experiences via video conference. Winia adds, "They emphasised the flexibility of the course, which enables them to study on their terms. They also appreciated studying in a class with their peers (professional athletes). Most of all, they stressed the importance of preparing for life after their active careers".

Carlo Mamo echoes those sentiments. Mamo is not only General Secretary of the Maltese Football Players Association (MFPA), he is also a professional footballer and a student at the FIFPro Online Academy.

"My experience with the FIFPro Online Academy is very positive so far. Time is a problem to cope with all the lectures because the course is quite intensive - and that is how it should be - but I can manage. The advantage obviously is that the course is 100 % online and this allows me to watch the lecture videos at any time during the day, early in the morning or late at night".

"I enjoy doing most of the lectures as the examples mentioned by the lecturers are related to sports. Assignments are not theoretical but practical problem solving and that also keeps me interested and enables me to put into practice what I learn during the lectures".

"Together with another Maltese student, I decided to do my main project on the Maltese fan experience at the football stadia. Sharing ideas and having different opinions was very beneficial and the project delivered was of a better quality than if it had been done by one individual in our case".

"I am not studying to find a job after my football career", Mamo concludes. "My main intention is to keep on learning new skills, improving on how the players association operates and enabling myself to better assist the players who are interested in doing this degree".

Applications

FIFPro invites all professional footballers who are interested in the FIFPro Online Academy to apply to their national professional footballers' association. For more information they can visit the FIFPro Online Academy section of this website, or contact Suzanne Bakker at FIFPro House (s.bakker@fifpro.org) or Jesper Thorup (jesper.thorup@spillerforeningen.dk) at the office of Spillerforeningen, the Danish players' union.

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