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  • Alex Mills

Sporting Chance links up with Professional Footballers Australia

Sporting Chance has partnered with Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) which will enhance mental health services available to many of their members – and also includes provision for their partners.

 Through the new agreement, members of Professional Footballers Australia based in the northern hemisphere can receive emotional or mental health support provided by Sporting Chance’s network of accredited expert practitioners (those playing in England and Wales already had this support available to them as part of their membership of the English PFA). In addition, their partners will get access to the same support, which represents a significant development in welfare provision within football.


Professional Football Australia’s Head of Player Development, Rita Mankowska, said the partnership would allow over 150 of their members based outside of Australia more streamlined access to mental health support. 


“It’s wonderful that we have been able to enhance our service to overseas players and provide access to services in their time zone,” Mankowska said. 


“There has been exponential growth in our members seeking mental health support, so Sporting Chance will assist us in meeting that increasing demand.” 


Sporting Chance CEO, Colin Bland, said: 


“We are delighted to offer our services to members of Professional Footballers Australia playing throughout Europe and, just as importantly, the same support to their partners. 


“Professional sportspeople want to play at the very best level they can and for some this can mean having to live far away from home. At times, it’s likely this will present emotional challenges for both them and their families. 


“We know that a player’s emotional state can have a huge influence on their performance and ability to adapt to new environments. We also know that, like most of us, their emotional state will be affected by their relationships and the people they care most about. 


“My view is that Professional Footballers Australia have shown a desire to support both players and partners and this speaks to their want for their members to succeed and I hope that other organisations will follow their lead.


“We understand that asking for help isn’t always easy, particularly in elite sport, but we have been providing confidential support in this space for over two decades and we hope that eligible members of Professional Footballers Australia or their partners feel that they can reach out to us if they need us.”


President of Professional Footballers Australia, Jackson Irvine, who is based in Germany with 2. Bundesliga outfit FC St. Pauli, welcomed the new partnership. 


“I know from my experience playing overseas how difficult it can be adjusting to new opportunities and how important having easy access to experts that can help your mental wellbeing throughout your personal and professional journey. 


“Our aim through the PFA is to ensure every player feels supported, so making access to mental health programs easier for those playing abroad has been a priority for the PFA's leadership group." 


As revealed in the PFA’s Player Development Program report last year, there is an unprecedented level of demand in the PDP’s mental health services. During the 2022/23 season, the PFA facilitated 773 confidential counselling sessions for its members, which represented a 265 per cent increase, year-on-year. 


Australian-based PFA partner The Mind Room, will continue to provide Australian-based players with a domestic service that can support their professional and personal challenges. 


The PFA has previously worked with Sporting Chance, with Adams delivering an exclusive webinar on his career to all PFA Members in 2021.  


The webinar, which provides insights into Adams’ own challenges during and after his playing career is available to members via the PFA’s Player Development Program Online.

Sporting Chance offer for Professional Footballers Australia members based in northern hemisphere:


·       Who: All members based in any league or division (including players’ partners) 

·       What: 12 x sessions of talking therapy within a 2-year period, plus consideration for residential admission on a case-by-case basis 


Support can be via the respective PFA Contacts listed below or through the contact form -


Rita Mankowska - Matildas Player Development Manager  

Jon McKain - Socceroos PDM & Overseas Male Player Relations Manager 


Erin Clout - Overseas Female Player Relations Manager  


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