For most athletes, competing at the Olympic Games is the pinnacle of their career. To reach the Games, athletes commit both time and energy and often sacrifice many facets of what can be referred to as a “normal” life. While these athletes have elected to pursue an alternate career path, their dedication to their sport, competition and training demonstrates they are just as capable of achieving success well beyond their sporting career.
As an athlete’s experiences are not typical, they require personalised support to achieve this success. The increasing professionalism and globalisation of elite sport means athletes are required to organise the amount of time dedicated to educational and professional development pursuits. Many athletes retire from elite sport without acquiring an education, training or life skills. This typically leaves them unprepared for the transition to work from their sporting career. Whilst the majority of their non-sporting peers have already established themselves in professions, retired athletes may find themselves beginners in the career world, with no tangible means of entry into an alternative occupation or profession.
Therefore, it is widely accepted that the sports world needs to better support athletes to enable them to have a balanced life throughout their sports career, and to provide them with the tools and resources that will better prepare them for their transition into life after sport. Athletes’ dedication to their sport, competition and training demonstrates they are just as capable of achieving success well beyond their sporting career. It is therefore essential to make athletes aware of the skills and qualities they possess which can be applied in a non-sporting context.
The IOC has implemented a programme to address these needs by providing athletes with the support they require during and after their sports career. The IOC Athlete Career Programme (IOC ACP) provides guidance as well as the necessary tools to help athletes successfully manage training, competition and the challenges and opportunities of day-to-day life. It focuses on three pillars: education, life skills and employment.
Advice on how to assist athletes to successfully combine sport and studies, including academic counselling. Information and tips regarding successful pathways within education at all levels are presented. This web site will provide more info and tips soon.
Information, practical tools and guides to share with athletes on subjects such as health, budgeting and financial/money matters, time management, media training, public speaking and goal setting are presented. This web site will provide more info and tips soon.
Support and advice to assist the athletes in their “other” career, including information on drafting a resume, job hunting and interview preparation will be presented.
The IOC, in collaboration with Adecco, provides NOCs with the support and tools necessary to help athletes make the transition from competitive sport to a new career. This web site will provide more info and tips soon.
Adecco, in countries where it is represented, also helps athletes with job placement. Until the end of 2009, Adecco has supported more than 5,000 athletes in 25 countries, including those where Adecco has agreements with the respective National Olympic Committees.
IOC President Jacques Rogge summarises the position of the IOC:
“Life after a sports career and an athlete's reintegration into society is important for the IOC. The IOC alone cannot do everything, as there are hundreds of millions of athletes throughout the world. However, the IOC will create a network to give stimulus to what has to be done on a national level. We must work on a local basis and we have a huge network of NOCs. In many countries, either the government or the NOC offers access to education to an athlete during their sporting career. But the important thing is that the athletes should bear in mind that they have a responsibility during their career to prepare for later life.”
(International Athletes Forum, Lausanne, 19-20 October 2002)