Sunday 26 June 2022, 22:00

The Next 90: Guidance through the next career steps

  • The participants of The Next 90 programme met at the Home of FIFA in Zurich last week

  • Be Strategic was the focus of the fourth module

  • Javier Ceppi: "We always wanted to provide a service for former players"

For many people, the end of their working career means retirement. When professional footballers end their careers, on the other hand, they are in the prime of their lives and face a new challenge. What comes after they hang up their football boots? This is where the FIFA programme "The Next 90" comes in. It is aimed at former players who have played at least one international match, at born leaders and former active players who want to transfer their achievements on the pitch into a second career, be it in football or in another field. "We had always wanted to provide a service to former players and we thought education is the best way to set them up for their second career," explained Javier Ceppi, Senior Player & Promotions Events Manager at FIFA. "We learned from lots of conversations that FIFA should do something to support former players advance their post-career plans. We saw that there's a gap in the industry, so we decided to tackle this. Retiring is a very difficult thing and we want to help to make the transition as smooth as possible, and hopefully set them up for their next steps,” he added.

The Next 90 is taking me to that place [where] I can help African kids or help less-privileged kids to go to school and also play this lovely football that has brought me this far. The Next 90 is doing that for me.

Mercy Akide (Nigeria)
Mercy Akide (Nigeria)

After completing three online modules, The Next 90 participants met in person for the first time last week in Zurich to address the topic of strategy. Among other things, they discussed why strategy is so important in the business world, what distinguishes a good one from a bad one and how to develop an implementable strategic plan themselves. An important topic, as former US national player Heather O'Reilly emphasises. "I truly love coaching and right now, I coach at the University of North Carolina. I also like doing media work. I think maybe where this module will help me is building my own brand and working on my own personal strategy," says the three-time Olympic and 2015 world champion. "I’m a very competitive person. We all play football or soccer because we are competitive people, so how do I make my personal brand better than someone else’s? How do I make my academy [The Heather O'Reilly Soccer Academy was founded in 2013] more attractive and a more powerful experience? I’m learning a lot of things in terms of strategy; how you think about competition, how you think about pricing, things like that, that I think will really help me going forward."

The words of the 231-time national player not only underline the importance of a programme like "The Next 90", but also how great the need is for the right tools to be successful in the phases of life after an active sports career. No wonder, then, that the response to the first edition of The Next 90 was correspondingly positive. "We wanted to give the opportunity to as many former players as possible. We have geographical representation, we have former FIFA Women's World Cup winners, legends of the game, but we also have former players that have played only once for their national teams. It's all about giving the opportunity to those that have been of service to their country and to football," Ceppi stated.

"It is a great resource for everyone that is looking to further their second career. You can see how much the players that are doing The Next 90 are enjoying the experience and we believe that it can transform many more lives going forward."

The first edition of the programme "The Next 90" comprises seven modules and runs over a period of ten months. The next module takes place end of August as an online session.