For Players, By Players
Elite Welfare Management is comprised of an in-house team of specialist professional coaches, experts and former players who share the same passion and belief in the benefits of a player's welfare.
Growing up with my family and friends, I had a steady progression until Juventus came knocking after monitoring me playing with the France under 15's and 17's.
Something I never expected or thought about – playing abroad never crossed my mind and at that time, it was a shock to the whole of French football. Young talented players going to play abroad wasn't well received.
But I have always been an ambitious person so I didn't think twice and accepted Juventus' offer - even though I was only 17. Italy was a massive decision and it turned out to be a great experience in terms of learning. Leaning a new language, a new culture and a new style of football was very exciting to me and those were challenges that got me going. I was fearless and adventurous but also very naïve.
I eventually moved to England but suffered the same culture shock I experienced when I arrived in Italy; leaning a new language, a new culture and another new style of football. But this time it was a lot harder for me to adapt which I believe set in motion a domino effect that I never managed to stop and what eventually forced me to retire.
Now at the age of 29, I can look back on my career, reflecting and digesting why with my enormous potential I was forced to retire so early. Being a young player, travelling abroad by yourself or your family brings too many challenges that doesn't allow a player to fulfil its potential."
"I met John Duncan after Stoke City appointed him. I always recognised the importance of the mind to maximise a player's performance or to help them to come out of a dark period. I jumped at the opportunity to have session with John which has got me right back on track.
After suffering my own playing career setbacks, I decided that enough was enough; more has to be done to help players - particularly foreign players who can become more vulnerable - to not repeat the same mistakes I made.
John was the first name that came to my mind as once again, mental health support is key to protect player welfare. Education is another area that I recognise would have made the difference if I had it when I was at the academy in France & Italy.
My passion is to help players fulfil their potential so they can enjoy a fruitful career.
My long-term goal for E.W.M is to build an international organisation to promote and protect players' welfare
My experience of working within a club was great. It made me aware of how complex the dynamics of relationships within a professional football team is. It also showed me the barriers that exist to prevent a person asking for help or support.
This experience has enabled E.W.M. to remove the barriers and provide a safe confidential space to enable players to receive support at any time and keep their identity a secret even from the coach that is supporting them if necessary. The extreme highs and lows of the sport can be a problem for some players as well as the frustration of injuries and loss of form leading to the removal from the first team and competition.
Just like anyone else in the world players can be effected by lack of confidence, low moods/ depression, addictions, bereavement, relationship issues, anxiety, anger etc. All of which mentioned and many more issues will be addressed by the team of Psychologists and coaches from E.W.M.
In an impressive career which began as a youngster at Crystal Palace, Leon enjoyed tenures with clubs such as Fulham, Peterborough United, Norwich City, Coventry City, Charlton Athletic and Northampton Town. Despite his success on the pitch, circumstances occurring off, left Leon vulnerable. Unfortunately the warning-signs were not spotted early enough to prevent him from suffering with depression.
After being contacted by numerous players who were suffering in similar circumstances, this encouraged Leon to release his own story in 2011 to raise awareness for players and offer them an avenue to seek support.
Leon, since retiring from football, has become an iconic figure within the world of Sport, having been one of the first players to publicly reveal his struggles with depression following the tragic death of Gary Speed. EWM responded to this and since this time Leon now works closely with the business developing programmes and delivering them to players. With his knowledge and experience playing an integral role in players being able to trust EWM has been crucial in removing the barriers preventing players from coming forward. In addition, to supporting EWM publicly, Leon has also had a course developed for him to undergo to become qualified in delivering programmes, and will inevitably become a key figure in our future.
Professor Richard Elliott is Director of the Lawrie McMenemy Centre for Football Research based at Southampton Solent University. He is a leading expert on the study of foreign players and the globalisation and commercialisation of football. Richard's work has been published widely and he is regularly invited to speak at events in the UK and Europe. He provides academic support for the Football Association, training and research for the League Managers Association, and has worked in conjunction with the Premier League, and professional clubs.
Richard's knowledge of the issues facing foreign players is fundamental to the work that EWM does. Having studied and worked with professional athletes across a range of sports, Richard has an expert knowledge of the problems that professional athletes face when moving to a new country or location. Richard works with EWM to provide the most up-to-date research and information about these problems and to help design and develop the services which EWM provide to their clients.