Fleetwood coach Youl Mawene has hailed the work of the PFA in helping ease the transition for former players – having completed his degree.
The 35-year-old Frenchman, who played as a defender at Preston North End and Fleetwood Town, saw his career abruptly halted two-years ago by a serious knee injury.
But Mawene, like an increasing number of professionals, wasn’t left to fend for himself thanks to the players’ union, who had already got him involved in a distance learning course.
And the former centre-half’s hard work has paid off.
Not only has he spent the last two seasons as a fitness coach with Fleetwood, working alongside former Preston team-mate turned Town manager Graham Alexander, but he’s just graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University with a degree in Sports Science.
“If you want to know the grade, it’s a first,” Mawene made clear – a broad smile showing clear pride in his achievement.
“I’ve kept it quiet,” he added. “I started the study four or five years ago, through distance learning.
“The PFA has helped a lot of players and I’ve got to say a big thank you to the PFA – they do a fantastic job for us.
“Thankfully there are now six or seven boys. There’s Christian Dailly, me, Lewin Nyatanga, other players as well, who have gone through it and hopefully have graduated as well.”
Mawene admits it’s good to finally have his qualification after so long working towards it. But he knows it’s been beneficial for his work at Highbury, a role which in turn has helped him with his qualifications.
“It’s been a long way coming, a long time coming and it’s good to finally get the tag,” Mawene said.
“I’ve been very fortunate over the last couple of years because I’ve been able to practise some of the things I’ve learned directly here with Fleetwood Town.
“I’ve used what I’m doing at the club for my course.
“It’s worked out perfectly and it’s been a brilliant few years.”
The Frenchman has made the Fylde coast his home for many years, to the point his accent has taken on a touch of Lancastrian, and he doesn’t fit the stereotype as a footballer.
He’s eloquent, informed and, as he’s keen to point out, desperate to carry on his learning while coaching.
“I’m a bit sad I’m not going to have to study so much but I might be leaning towards some sort of strength and contitioning course, some kind of workshop,” he said.
“I’ll try to get hold of the academy side of things a little bit, make sure I don’t drop that totally.
“Now I’m just going to concentrate on enjoying my time here.
“We’ve got good gadgets to use to learn. “We’ve got GPS, heart-rate monitoring ...
“There are a couple of interns too, so the department is growing. It’s blossoming at the minute.
“I’ve been working on my own for the last couple of years but now, with a couple of interns coming in, it’s brilliant. We have dynamic young men coming in.
“I’m excited about the the season, the training ground, everything. It’s a good time.”