Supporting the Transition Away from Elite Sport
Posted: Mon, 08 May 2017 10:27
It was a real privilege to be invited up to Leeds recently to discuss all things Yorkshire Carnegie and Leeds Rhinos.
The occasion was made even more special by the presence of Jonathan Pendlebury, who I'd last seen 9 years earlier when we were team-mates at Premiership rugby union side, Gloucester. Our paths have taken very different directions since hanging up our boots, but rugby and the welfare of the next generation saw us reunited.
I was invited to deliver a short masterclass around a typical career journey for a professional rugby player, including what can be done to maximise employment opportunities and develop yourself as a person away from the pitch. As a Director of Switch the Play I wanted to share our passion for delivering a duty of care to professional athletes within and beyond their elite careers in sport.
My audience was a mix of young players and their parents. I was very conscious of revealing the stark statistics around how few players make the transition from young academy player to successful full time, high-earning professional. I feel enormously privileged to have had a 14-year career playing with, and against, some of the best in the world (and winning the odd trophy here and there too!). The last thing I wanted was to deter anyone from following their dreams.
But 2017 marks 22 years since rugby union became a professional sport and with that comes the necessity to reflect and learn from those who have graced the pitch in the past. Whilst the spoils are far greater now than when I started out in 1996, the need to prepare and develop as young men, as well as athletes, is more important than ever.
Academy coaches like Ben Lazenby and Jonathan Pendlebury are leading the field when it comes to providing their players with opportunities through and beyond sport. But the driving force in all of this has to be the player, which is why Switch the Play is travelling the length and breadth of the UK encouraging athletes and players to recognize that they have a responsibility to plan ahead.
By working with all areas of sport, business and enterprise we hope to find and deliver solutions that smooth the path for athlete transition. One thing I did guarantee every player and parent in the room is that one day the dream will end and a 'normal' job will beckon. But no player or athlete should feel they are alone in this journey. There are hundreds going through the same tough experience and Switch the Play is on hand to help.
We are working for the good of sport, putting athletes at the heart of everything we do. As an independent, trusted social enterprise we are committed to giving something back to the men and women who have sacrificed so much for their sports.
Leon Lloyd is former Rugby Union footballer and a Director at Switch the Play
For more information or to find out more about Switch the Play's masterclasses on transition, parenting and player agents, contact Leon at: firstname.lastname@example.org