The Professional Cricketers' Association (PCA) surpassed the £1m mark for educational funding grants to its membership over the last ten years.
The PCA has Personal Development and Welfare at the heart of its duty to players both past and present, with a comprehensive programme including six dedicated full time Personal Development Managers (PDMs) and a framework for developing players either alongside cricketing careers or after they hang up their boots. A new initiative this year has seen all active players working with their PDMs to develop a bespoke personal development plan.
As part of this effort, the PCA pays 50% towards the cost of obtaining qualifications or vocational training. Through this funding we given grants to 417 members, who have taken 64 different courses ranging from media management, financial planning, public speaking, plumbing and brickwork to driving lessons. Amongst all the courses taken, cricket coaching is unsurprisingly the most popular, with 178 players achieving ECB coach education qualifications.
Jason Ratcliffe, Assistant Chief Executive commented "We're committed to member personal development, recognising that it’s imperative to have a plan and a vision for life after cricket and this funding reinforces that objective. The programme is a joint effort with the ECB; we are grateful for their support and the important contribution they make to our funding.
Playing professional sport is a fantastic privilege but it does come to end and that's when the next phase of life and another 30-40 years of work becomesimportant. We anticipate the figures will improve dramatically in the coming years with six full time staff and recognition by all in the game of the importance of continued personal development"
Surrey's Gary Keedy, who recently completed his physiotherapy studies, said "The funding I have received is vital and very much appreciated. I've managed to complete my physiotherapy qualifications over the last four years with the PCA's help and have absolute peace of mind that when the time finally comes to hang up my boots, I'll have a seamless transition into a new career"
Hampshire's Michael Carberry recently qualified as an electrician, after an illness which threatened his professional career, at a time when an England berth was within touching distance. Carberry commented, "I used the disappointing down time of injury to ensure I out preparing for a second career, should I not recover fully”. Current members of the England squad, Monty Panesar and Nick Compton, have completed Computing and Management and Media training respectively.
Adrian Rollins, ex Northamptonshire CCC and Derbyshire, has accessed funding almost every year since finishing some nine years ago, and is now the proud holder of a bachelor degree in Maths and Education BSc (Hons) as well as a Masters degree in Education MA (Ed).He said, "It’s amazing that I still get supported after playing. The help and support is invaluable. I would urge more members to take advantage."
Essex’s Reece Topley, who recently received funding to complete his driving lessons said, "It’s fantastic to get this type of off-field support, which makes a big difference to my life and future career development."
ECB's Managing Director of England Cricket, Hugh Morris, who was integral in driving the implementation of the personal development programme with the PCA 10 years ago said "Its tremendous for the PCA to have hit this momentous landmark figure. It's vital that as a game we encourage player personal development on and off the field, particularly in the initial years after finishing, where a loss of identity and self-esteem can be a reality for many. Continued learning and personal development whilst still playing can enhance a player's performance and confidence, which can only be a good thing for all concerned."
Educational funding is just one important component of a comprehensive support network provided by the PCA which includes contractual and legal advice, online tutorials (involving the recent Mind Matters series, which educates players on mental health issues related to drugs, alcohol, gambling, anxiety, depression and self-harm). Players can also access mandatory anti-corruption tutorals, a confidential helpline, and the PCA Benevolent Fund which offers assistance in cases of hardship.