FOOTBALLERS are often accused of having too much time off but one group of Scottish players are spending their midweek day off learning a new trade.
The likes of St Johnstone midfielder Danny Swanson, Partick Thistle’s Chris Erskine and Ross County striker Brian Graham are halfway through a six-week tiling course arranged by PFA Scotland, which sees them attend the DIY Trade School in Coatbridge each Wednesday.
The course is one of a series of PFA Scotland initiatives to help players prepare for the end of their football careers.
Graham said: “Listen, it’s not as if we are playing in the English Premier League and we are all millionaires.
“When our football careers are up we have got to go and find a job. We have got families and kids to look after so you have always got to have your eye on the ball and look at what’s after football.
“It’s good to get something behind you before your football career finishes and it’s good of the PFA to put courses on like this.
“I’ve got a brother-in-law who has got his own tiling company so I’ve got one eye looking at him for a job one day.”
Erskine is well aware of the demands of life outside football having trained and worked as a pipe-fitter in shipyards.
“Your career doesn’t last forever,” the former Dundee United midfielder said.
“I came in pretty late anyway, I came in at 22, so I actually already have a trade behind me. But I just fancied doing something different. It is a bit different but we are all enjoying it.”
Raith Rovers striker Mark Stewart feels training and education outside football is useful on a number of levels.
“I’ve done bits of education through the PFA before,” the 28-year-old said. “I’ve done PT and Higher English. I probably left school with nothing when I was 16 to go into professional football and you start realising when you get a bit older that you do need something to fall back on.
“I have never done anything like this before and I like a challenge so I thought I would go for it. This is week three and I’m loving it.
“It’s hard and even mentally it’s challenging but I’m enjoying it and it’s a good career after you finish if you’re good at it.
“It’s completely different from football. My full family were all electricians and I was the only one that wasn’t interested in anything like that, I just wanted to play football. But I have embraced this opportunity.
“There are a few of my good pals in there as well and that helps you settle in. You are all in the same boat and that helps you.”
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