- Written by Catherine Rees
Piero Mingoia is a professional footballer who played at Watford F.C. having begun his career there after being spotted at just 13, whilst playing Sunday league football. At age 19, he scored on his debut for the club during a FA Cup match against Hartlepool. Piero went on to play for Accrington Stanley and Cambridge United.
Piero is making plans for his eventual transition away from his professional football career and recently attended the Switch the Play Bootcamp to help him decide what he wants to do next.
“Two years ago, I would dread contracts coming out, waiting to see if someone was going to take me on or not. After working with mentors and coaches, I managed to turn my mindset around and realise that it doesn’t matter how good a player I am - it’s just someone’s opinion. I couldn’t let it affect my life and didn’t want someone else to have the control over my future.
“I haven’t felt fulfilled by my career for the last few years, so I started to increase the intensity of preparing for my transition out of professional sport. I first started thinking about it about three or four years ago, but it’s always been at the back of my mind, even when I was younger. So, for the past few years, I’ve been working on my own football academy business. I’ve also been studying personal performance coaching with the aim of helping athletes off and on the pitch, improving performance in all areas of their life.
“Preparing for my transition has definitely helped take the pressure off my life and sport. If all you have is sport, it can become a major issue when your contract runs out, you’re injured or thinking about retiring. Doing other things outside of football gives me the tranquillity and confidence to know that I could easily step into something else.
“I’m potentially fully transitioning out of sport and into my new ventures this season so I recently attended the Switch the Play Bootcamp to give me a bit of guidance. I found talking to other athletes from different sports very helpful – especially hearing what they’ve gone through. It’s been great for developing my self-awareness, communication skills and discovering what I like doing. Focusing on my strengths and the transferrable skills I’ve developed in sport was useful too.
“What I did notice is that the athletes I met at the bootcamp from outside of football, seemed a little more prepared. It’s like football is so well funded there doesn’t seem to be that need to keep studying or working alongside it – the money you earn almost kills that motivation. Whereas other sports, that aren’t as well funded, seem to keep their athletes more grounded.
“The majority of football players will naturally start to think about transitioning from around 27 - especially in the lower leagues when the contracts aren’t as lucrative or as long. But a lot of it is still done in secrecy. Some managers believe that if you start thinking about it, it can affect your performance.
“Even when I was younger, I was scared to explore other things because I was worried about what people would think. But you need to remember that managers won’t think twice about you if you’re not part of their plans. You need to take responsibility for your life and future. Don’t leave it in other people’s hands.
“The one thing I would say to any young academy player looking to enter football professionally is to start thinking about your transition now. Develop and keep interests outside of your sport, keep learning about new things and industries. Network. Build relationships. It doesn’t have to be at a high intensity. In doing all of this you will keep the door open for other opportunities. It also helps for those times when your team loses – you won’t be moody all weekend and take it out on your family. Don’t let your profession become your life.”