It is hoped that the formation of a new players’ union will give men and women footballers a “voice” in the local game.
The Professional Footballers’ Association Northern Ireland (PFA NI) made its debut last Thursday night at an event in Belfast’s Europa Hotel which was supported by the Irish Football Association and the Northern Ireland Football League (NIFL).
Irish FA chief executive Patrick Nelson and NIFL chief executive Gerard Lawlor were in attendance at the launch event along with club representatives and players from across the NIFL Premiership, NIFL Championship and NIFL Women’s Premiership.
“As a newly formed entity we have worked tirelessly to develop the organisation, build a strong foundation and a sound governance structure” said Michael Carvill from the PFA NI management Committee.
“As football in this country continues to grow, so too have the demands on players, with more full-time professional contracts being awarded than ever. The lack of a players’ voice and support mechanism was identified by the players and hence the formation of the union, which we are now delighted to formally announce.”
The ex-Linfield and Crusaders forward now hopes that with the formation of a players’ union, greater assistance can be provided to players in relation to contractual advice, legal support, personal development and player wellbeing with a significant emphasis on players’ mental health.
Part of the drive behind the initiative was the formation of professionalism within the local women’s’ game.
Northern Ireland senior women’s international and Crusaders Strikers captain Julie Nelson said: “It's a fantastic time to be involved in the game and I'm delighted to be part of this new initiative. The women's game in particular has gone from strength to strength and having our own PFA can only help quicken that process.”