Major League Soccer announced on Tuesday a set of player engagement initiatives to help players as they progress through their playing careers.
The program arises in partnership with Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), the official education partner of MLS, AthLife and Headspace. It’s designed to provide mental health services, educational resources and career development opportunities – all to change how MLS players approach life before, during and after the game.
“Major League Soccer has developed a stronger pathway to prepare players for success long after they have left the playing field, and we are deepening the connections that players have with MLS, with their clubs, and with each other for years to come,” said MLS President and Chief Administrative Officer JoAnn Neale in a statement.
The resources and programming are centered around seven core areas: Character, Career, Currency, Connection, Cognition, Change and Care.
Another aspect is the creation of the MLS Greats Network, which launches with a celebration around the 2019 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target. The alumni group is open to any player who has ever signed an MLS contract, aimed at maintaining camaraderie and connection between the players, their clubs and MLS after they transition out of the locker room.
During All-Star week in Orlando, a group of retired players participated in a Careers in Soccer Summit, which promotes professional development and networking opportunities in sports and business. MLS Greats will also enjoy hospitality and programming around the annual midsummer showcase.
“Through engagement and professional development, we want our players to know that they are always welcome and supported,” said Dr. Jamil Northcutt, MLS Vice President of Player Engagement. “MLS is meeting players where they are in their journeys and providing the resources necessary to help them develop holistically and reach their highest potential.