Did you know that 40% of professional footballers became bankrupt within five years of kicking their last ball?
I was shocked to find out this statistic and that most players have no plans for when they retire from football. The Game of Two Halves helps footballers prepare for what happens next after the final whistle blows and as the women’s game continues to grow in the UK, they believe that more women’s footballers need to get representation and help to guide them through their career.
I spent an afternoon listening to Marco Floreale passionately talk about how he wants to change footballers lives for the better and learn from where many went wrong in the past. It is no secret that many of the best footballers have admitted to addiction problems, money worries and secrets which have plagued them both during and after their careers and Florae and his team at The Game of Two Halves have set out to make sure the footballers of the future are better prepared and better equipped for whatever life throws at them.
Over the next six issues, we will be looking into the different areas of football and The Game of Two Halves brand to show how a player welfare programme can benefit women’s footballers through all stages of their career.
The Game of Two Halves was set up in 2020 when Floreale came back from six years working in Africa and wanted a change in direction for his career. "I had been in Mauritius for three years and whilst it is a beautiful island, I was so detached from reality, that it was time to come," Floreale told me.
"I sat and thought about what I wanted to do and what I was passionate about. The one thing that kept coming back to me was my knowledge and love of for the beautiful game of football. I started looking at what I could bring to the beautiful game with my solicitor’s hat on which got me traction because I didn’t come across like a typical agent."
The Game of Two Halves is far from what you would expect from a typical agency. As well as helping you secure contracts and move up the football pyramid, they help players in all aspects of their lives including branding, finance and education.
Floreale added: "I soon realised that I wanted to do more than just contract negotiations because it’s still just a contract. You fill the same details in, check the terms and conditions and that’s that. So I started to read up more about what was wrong in football and the statistic that 40% of footballers end up bankrupt within five years of finishing their career really stood out to me. Most players finish before they are 35 so by 40 they could be having to start all over again. I realised I could not change the past but I knew I wanted the people who came on board with me and trusted me, didn’t end up as one of those statistics.
"Whatever you have done from the ages 20 to 35, needs to sustain you. If you have not done it right then you need qualifications and knowledge to go back into the work force. You can be slightly hindered in a place of work because all you have done is play football.
"If you have a way with numbers you could become an accountant but then at 40 you will have to study again, so why not do that when you are playing football so you are as prepared as you can be?"
When looking at the Game of Two Halves it is clear to see that they stand out from any of their competitors. They offer a full service with everyone on the board "licensed, educated and regulated".
"I think that is where we stand out from the crowd," Floreale added. "Anybody can be an agent if you have £500 and a clean police record but we knew we wanted to be different. We want to provide the best. These are people’s lives and careers and they want us represent us.
"They want to get the best out of their career and we want to be the best because we are educated to be not just because we had some spare cash and felt like becoming an agent or my best mates’ dads son has just become a footballer.
"We have the right people who will do right by their clients. A client is such a key word in this whole business. They are not assets, they are not pieces of meat or pawns in a game, they are clients. My duty is to my client."
Whilst the Game of Two Halves initially started on the men’s side of football, they have recently signed their first two women’s players to the company.
"We treat everybody as a client. We don’t see gender, race or any other aspects which make people unique which just see a footballer.
"Women’s football is growing so much in the UK and the representation side of the game needs to grow with it."
You can read more about The Game of Two Halves in next month’s issue where we discuss the four stages of a footballer’s career.