Yorkshire opening batsman Alex Lees, Derbyshire captain Billy Godleman, Glamorgan batsman Will Bragg, Leicestershire wicketkeeper/batsman Lewis Hill, former Surrey seamer Tim Linley and former Warwickshire slow left-armer Paul Best are the winners of this year’s Professional Cricketers’ Association Personal Development Scholarship Awards.
The awards, which were introduced in 2013, reward the most proactive current and former professional cricketers in England and Wales who have sought ways to develop and improve themselves off the pitch.
Lees and Hill were winners in the Newcomers category, Godleman and Bragg were recognised in the Current Players category and Linley and Best won the Past Player Progression Personal Development Awards.
All six, who had to make a Dragon’s Den-style presentation to a judging panel, received £1,000 to use for further Personal Development course funding, resources of their choice or to reimburse costs already incurred.
Linley also received an additional £1,000 after his quirky presentation, which included a practical demonstration of his barista skills, was highly commended by the judging panel of PCA Chief Executive David Leatherdale, Ian Thomas, the PCA’s Head of Development and Welfare, and two PCA Personal Development & Welfare Managers, Charlie Mulraine and Lynsey Williams.
“The PCA Scholarship Awards is a fantastic day. It’s the fourth year of running this, all the presentations were fantastic and it captures some great ambassadors who have utilised the PCA’s support, have developed Personal Development plans, who are on their way to discovery, learning and, in some cases are making healthy transitions away from the game,” Thomas said.
Since he was forced to retire because of injury at the end of the 2015 season Linley has trained as a barista and is in the process of setting up his own coffee shop in the historic Kirkgate Market in his home city of Leeds.
“If you have got a passion and you want to explore that avenue then the help is there from the PCA. You just have to ask,” Linley said.
“I really have used the PCA a lot in numerous facets and I feel so fortunate that I was a professional cricketer because I have had this great organisation behind me through a difficult period since my retirement.
“There were a lot of challenges which came immediately after that, but the PCA have been fantastic. They have always been at the end of a phone and I have really utilised them. They have been absolutely magnificent.”
Best, who was forced to retire because of injury just before the start of the 2015 season, is now training as a solicitor with London-based Clyde & Co having previously qualified to teach English as a Foreign Language, with PCA funding, during a spell in Malaysia.
“I think Personal Development is incredibly important. While you are playing it gives you something to help you switch off from cricket,” Best said.
“It gives you great life skills and it helps you to develop as a person. It gives you the backbone of knowing that when you finish you have got the confidence to move into something else other than cricket.”
Godleman, whose varied CV includes training as a counsellor at Newman University in Birmingham, completing an introductory course in sign language and obtaining a Level Three coaching qualification, has found that doing things away from cricket has helped him to develop as a person.
“Personal Development has changed me as a person in that I don’t feel that my self-worth as a human being is connected to my performances out on the field,” Godleman said.
“Broadening my horizons and exploring things outside of cricket has not only helped complement my performances out in the field but has definitely improved my wellbeng as a human being.”
Godleman will donate a third of his prize money to the Derby YMCA, an organisation he actively supports.
Bragg gained a degree in Civil Engineering during his early days on Glamorgan’s staff but he has set his sights on a future career in wealth management and has gained valuable experience on work placements and internships.
“As soon as I started my Glamorgan career 10 years ago I kept a keen eye on nurturing a career outside of sport,” Bragg said.
“I have completed a degree, got post-grad qualifications in wealth management and also undertaken a number of internships in South Wales and the South West, just to try to build that plan up for when the inevitable time comes to stop playing cricket and to make that transition as smooth as possible.”
Lees has followed Bragg’s example by doing work experience with a range of businesses including Cameron’s Brewery, Pennine Business Partners, Shaw Pallets and Players Cars.
He is also an ambassador for the Laura Crane Cancer Youth Trust and is studying for an online HND diploma in Business Management.
“The course has given me an insight into various disciplines within business and has also allowed me to understand different sectors and the attributes needed in order to work in life after cricket,” Lees said.
Hill is also planning for the future by completing a home study website design course which has enabled him to re-design the website of his father’s engineering company and to set up his own e-commerce business selling sports equipment.
“I used to see Personal Development as a distraction. All, I wanted to focus on was my cricket career. I probably put all my eggs in one basket,” Hill said.
“Cricket is the best job in the world but it’s a short career span and you do have to plan for life after. You have lots of spare time to do other things while you are playing, especially in the winter when you can do courses.”