Transitonal [sic] experiences of elite professional footballers
University of Wales Institute Cardiff
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The purpose of the present study was to comprehend the transition experiences of elite level professional football players, focusing on the role of athletic identity and social support. Participants (n=5) had competed in their sports at levels ranging from the English premier league (n = 2), to league two (n = 3) with participants having received international recognition at either under eighteen (n = 5), under twenty one (n = 3), "B" level (n = 3) or as full international (n = 1). In-depth semi structured interviews were used to obtain in depth, reliable data, in an attempt to gain the athletes perspective on the situation they had or were currently experiencing. Interviews were inductively analysed using content analysis. The results highlighted the dynamic and complex nature of transition, emphasising the role of social support, a perceived loss of identity, while participants suggested no other life experience had compared, thus disputing previous research (Sinclair and Orlick, 1993). From the current research it would appear that the transitional experience varies for each individual, with the sub components (athletic identity, social support and the transition) having different implications. In the interests of the performer, it may be beneficial for applied practitioners to work collaboratively with both the football clubs and governing body (Professional Footballers Association). Subsequently, there may be opportunity to identify potential retirees at the earliest opportunity that could result in an attempt to enhance the support during transition should the athlete require it.
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