YOUNG people training for football need other skills besides being able to play the game, Penrith-based trainers Alex McKenzie and Luke Priddis said.
Mr McKenzie and Mr Priddis are both financial planners.
They said their new program was their way of helping junior football players enjoy the game while thinking seriously about their futures.
‘‘Only 450 people in the country play football for a living,’’ Mr McKenzie said.
‘‘That’s why we’ll be helping kids we take on to get work experience.
‘‘We want to educate them in linking with business networks, communicating better and learning other skills needed for a working life.’’
Former Panther Priddis — whose own stellar football career is behind him — said finding star players should not be a football trainer’s only goal.
‘‘If they make first grade, that’s great, but a lot of kids don’t,’’ he said.
‘‘This way they’ll have the skills to take them through life.’’
He said their approach was preferable to signing on 30 or 40 boys, hoping to find one ‘‘football superstar’’ among them.
‘‘We’re hoping to take on more kids each year,’’ Mr McKenzie told the Gazette.
‘‘We have a certain ethic, which is you have to be prepared to learn things outside of football.’’
Both also said the program had a different fee structure, meant to benefit all players.
Mr McKenzie said it was important not to depend on percentage commissions from one, or a few highly paid, players.
‘‘Why should a star player subsidise some who are not?’’ he said.
Mr Priddis said even star players had to think of careers after they could no longer play the same game.
He said he was able to go into financial planning, but ideally all players should think about it much earlier.
‘‘That’s why we’re preparing kids for life after football, from day one,’’ Mr Priddis said.
‘‘If we sign up a kid at 15, he’ll be our client until he’s 65.’’
If you are a business owner or manager who can take on any of these young people for work experience call Alex McKenzie on 0414330651.