LaLiga Business School, the LaLiga educational department, launched a new course last November designed for current LaLiga Santander and LaLiga SmartBank players. The ‘Global Players Program', sponsored by Banco Santander, with Oxygen as an elearning partner and with the support of Spanish players’ union AFE (Asociación de Futbolistas Españoles) and the Players App, allowed footballers to study different subjects through online and streaming classes, before on-site classes at LaLiga’s headquarters in Madrid on June 1st, 2nd and 3rd.
The ‘Global Players Program’ is a pioneering educational program aimed at providing players with the knowledge and tools they need to develop professionally, preparing them for roles inside the football industry or in other sectors, whether during their playing careers or after hanging up their boots. The goal of this program, which is the first of its kind among the major European leagues, is to advise players on where to focus their professional careers at the end of their playing days.
Elche CF player Édgar Badía participated and he stated: “It's about getting to know the football industry on a global level. Given the experts that LaLiga put together for the webinars and given all the details they told us, it was worth sacrificing the time. After studying one course, you always want to continue learning and this was a unique opportunity.”
Speaking along the same lines, Alberto Zapater, a Real Zaragoza player, explained why he decided to take this pioneering course: “It was something new, the first time it had been done. We footballers have always had that need to work out what to do after playing football. When I saw this proposal to learn about the football industry, and that there are other options besides just being a player or a coach, I didn't think twice about it.”
In this first edition, 30 professional LaLiga players made up the student body: there were 16 LaLiga Santander players, from eight different clubs, and 14 LaLiga SmartBank players, representing 10 clubs. The age range of the students was very broad, as there were older more experienced players and younger players. This shows how committed, invested and interested the players are in undergoing training and discovering new challenges away from the white lines of the pitch.
LaLiga Business School, aware of the footballers’ busy work schedules, offered the course in different formats so that the players could combine their training and matches with the academic calendar.
Jorge Molina, of Granada CF, was another who highlighted the importance of learning about aspects that go beyond the field of play. He said: “It has been very enriching. There were talks with people who have been through this same situation and these talks opened our minds to everything that football encompasses, not just the parts we’re used to but the reasons why things are done. I have done coaching and sporting management courses and now this [the ‘Global Players Program’] to understand the other aspects of football. I am trying to be as prepared as possible so that, if I have the chance to continue being involved in football, I’ll be well prepared and more likely to do well.”
Meanwhile, Raúl Lizoain of CD Mirandés explained why such training is key to personal and professional growth, stating: “We know that our careers are short. We have to take advantage of our profession, train ourselves and learn about this industry we are in. Training is important to continue advancing, growing and, above all, to have knowledge of the industry in which we work.”
Adrián Embarba, the RCD Espanyol player, added: “I think it's important for current players to study and grow in this way, at the same time as playing. Something like this helps you in your day-to-day life and helps you deal with the uncertainty of not knowing what you’ll do a few years from now when you finish your [playing] career.”
Those who enrolled in the course received personalised instruction from a team of teachers and tutors throughout the duration of the program, while the players’ coordinator for the course was Alberto García, the former goalkeeper of Real Sporting, Getafe CF, Rayo Vallecano and other clubs.
The rollout and final phase of the course
The first phase of the course was delivered online and focused on the personal development of the players. From the start until the month of June, there were six webinars focused on understanding the work environment so that the players could familiarise themselves with the different development axes of the industry.
Then, to conclude the academic year, on June 1st, 2nd and 3rd there were in-person masterclasses at LaLiga headquarters. During these three days, the players received lectures from experts, including: Javier Tebas, president of LaLiga; Óscar Mayo, executive general director of LaLiga; and Javier Gómez, corporate general director of LaLiga. There were also visits to sites such as Mediapro's studios and the new LaLiga TwentyNine's restaurant in Madrid.
LaLiga Business School, an established training option for footballers
LaLiga Business School was created in 2017 with the aim of training the sports industry’s professionals of the future. It is now well established, with many students having passed through its classrooms, including the many professional footballers who have chosen to be part of LaLiga Business School from its launch until now.
This educational department of LaLiga is known for its innovation in education and the fact that the programs, from general courses to its Masters, are taught by professionals who work at LaLiga, LaLiga clubs or other leading institutions in the global sports industry.