Jeff Whitley, from the Professional Footballers Association’s well-being department, recently delivered a presentation to the Scholars at Lancaster and Morecambe College.
Jeff Whitley is a former professional footballer who’s playing career included clubs such as Manchester City, Sunderland, Wrexham, and Cardiff. He also played international football for Northern Ireland, gaining 20 caps.
During the talk, Whitley discussed a range of topics including the pressures he faced whilst playing professionally, dealing with injuries, moving to different clubs, and living away from home for the first time.
He candidly shared his own experience of the challenges he faced and how it affected his wellbeing and mental health. This included support for addictions to alcohol and drugs, which hugely affected his playing career and personal life.
The Scholars were able to identify with the pressures and problems involved in professional football, and in their everyday life. They learnt about the wide range of services and how the PFA can support their wellbeing, including the promotion of positive attitudes and informed decision making.
Morecambe FC Scholars thoroughly enjoyed the workshop, learning about the challenges of a professional footballer from someone with first-hand experience.
“The session was really good as it was from a real-life scenario with Jeff taking us through his footballing successes and his issues with drug and alcohol addictions.
“It showed us what can happen if you go down the wrong pathway, and the affects it can have on your football career and personal life,” the Scholars said.
Morecambe FC Head of Education, Gary Kelly, thought the workshop was a success and says it is important that the Scholars know about the useful resources that out there for them.
“It was good for the Scholars to hear about Jeff’s playing career and the reality of the pitfalls that affected its longevity.
“They recognised how a range of issues could easily influence poor decision making which could impact on their future career and life aspirations.
“Scholars were also made aware of the range of support services available from the PFA and Sporting Chance Clinic if their mental health and well-being required intervention,” he said.