Life after football and other second chance careers

By David Wilson

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Image caption,
Gareth McGlynn made his debut for Derry City as a 17-year-old

Even at the height of his playing career, Derry City winger Gareth McGlynn was preparing for life after football.

The League of Ireland is a far cry from the English Premier League with its huge salaries and superstars financially set for life.

Many ex-players here must simply start again when they hang up their boots.

Often they have little professional experience outside of the beautiful game.

McGlynn, who made his debut for Derry as a 17-year-old, was determined to succeed off the pitch - just as he had on it.

He also played in Australia and the US during a 16-year career.

Now he runs an international recruitment company with his wife, Ciara.

In order to succeed away from the pitch, he believes players need to "get out of the football bubble".

"It is about experiencing things outside the football life," he said.

"It is all well and good saying: 'Oh, I can continue coaching'. And that's great, but how many coaches and manager positions are there in Ireland, and for how many ex-players?

"There is just too much of a demand there. So when you hit 27 or 28, it is about getting educated."

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Ex-players don't realise the transferrable skills they can take into a professional life away from football, says McGlynn

His first foray into the world of business came when his then employers, Derry City, found themselves in financial difficulties.

"That was the light bulb to say this is not as secure as it seems," he said.

"I started a small business doing events management. That taught me how to do cash flows, look at a business day to day, the operations of it, the finances of it," he said.

McGlynn said many ex players don't realise the transferrable skills they can take into a professional life away from football.

The nature of a career in sport often means that by the age of 35, professionals are forced into exploring a second-chance career.

But there are many people who actively change career mid-working life through choice.

From stock market to stock pot

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Carol Banahan swapped trading stocks for making stock

After 25 years as an equity trader in Canada, Carol Banahan ditched a career trading in stocks for one making stock back home in Northern Ireland.

Ms Banahan explained that four years ago her days would start at 04:00 with a bedtime of 19:30, "because when managing hundreds of millions of dollars of other people's money you have to have your head screwed on".

Now, the former stock broker - who regularly made trades of between $50m and $100m (£27.5m and £55m) every day - runs her own country kitchen business specialising in all-natural bone broth and homemade stock.

"I have always loved stock and bone broth and have always made my own," she said.

"I did some market research and went back to school, completing qualifications in both cooking and nutrition.

"Now I have my own purpose-built kitchen in Derry, my products have won several big awards and things have gone from strength to strength," she said.

"It's been a lot of hard work but I'm delighted I made the change."

Making maths fun

Image source, Lorcan Doherty
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Former teacher Franz Schlindwein wanted to invent a new fun way of learning maths

One-time Londonderry school teacher Franz Schlindwein taught at secondary level for more than 25 years before turning his passion for teaching maths into a career in business.

His Izak9 interactive learning tool aims to inject fun into learning mathematics.

As a teacher, he became increasingly aware that children disengaged with maths as they got older.

"The removal of the play element for pupils as they progress through primary school leaves so many children bored with maths," he said.

"It took five years of research and development to produce something that could really engage pupils with maths.

"When Izak9 was finally ready, I left my teaching post to focus entirely on the new career."

Swapping building site for booster seat

Image source, Bernard Ward
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Grainne Kelly's advice for anyone wanting to change career is: 'Go get it!'

The inventor of the world's first inflatable car booster seat has had a varied career path.

Once a quantity surveyor, Grainne Kelly also managed a local radio station and set up her own travel agency.

It was her interest in travel - professionally and personally - that led to her invention of the Bubblebum inflatable seat.

"We travelled a lot with our two young children but every time we reached a car rental desk there were no car seats available," she said.

"It was so frustrating.

"I took the inflatable car seat from concept to shelf in nine months and my life took a whole new direction.

"Demand surged and the seat became available in 24 countries in just 24 months."

Her advice for anyone toying with a career change is: "Go get it!"

"The career of your dreams is never going to walk across your TV screen," she said.

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