Youngsters get a surprise visit from Andrew Flintoff at the 2014 Rookie Camp
If you want to get someone to listen, then having Andrew Flintoff speak at your event isn’t a bad way to go about it. As always, the fourth annual PCA Rookie Camp set out to drive home some vital messages to fledgling professionals just starting out, but when they’re being delivered by the charismatic former England all-rounder, people sit up and take notice.
The summit drew the latest influx of talent to county staffs – fresh-faced youngsters from all over the country to hear about both the good and bad sides of being a professional sportsman at the highest domestic level. Not surprisingly, they were captivated by what Freddie had to say. Ian Thomas, the PCA’s National Personal Development Manager, quotes,
“To have a superstar like Andrew Flintoff, who has done so much in cricket, open up and be honest with the players about the potential pitfalls in the game and the mistakes you can make was fantastic for the camp. When someone of his background is on board then you know that people will want to hear what he has to say. Plus, all the rookies had the chance to ask him questions in the privacy of our session. In the past we’ve had some excellent County players, but to have a seasoned international gave it that extra kudos.”
However, it wasn’t just the Preston powerhouse on hand to offer the benefits of his experience. A unique combination of experts in their respective fields, all willing to pass on their knowledge, came together to help get the careers of our future stars get off to the best possible start.
Current PCA chairman and Glamorgan four-day captain, Mark Wallace, was also on hand to paint a picture of life on the County circuit; BBC Radio’s Pat Murphy offered guidance on how to deal with the media, Matt Himsworth gave a master-class on safe use of social media, and Richard Doughty discussed the issue of addictive behaviour.
Alongside those contributions, the rehabilitated, Mervyn Westfield, told his story that saw him serve time in prison in a bid to prevent others falling into the same corruption trap. Plus, there was a welcome to the first-class County game from the ECB’s Gordon Hollins, and the chance for the players to meet their Personal Development Managers for the first time.
Thomas adds, “It’s a similar formula each year, with the same core areas, but at the same time we have tried to keep pace with the current climate and address new issues that are relevant right here, right now. It’s a whistle-stop tour of what they need to prepare for on and off the field and how they need to adapt their lifestyles as well.
“If we can educate the next generation of pros at a young age then they are going to be better professionals. It’s a starting point to let them know what is available to them through the PCA and how we can help. There are some very powerful messages for them to take away, none more so than Mervyn’s story – it was very brave of him to share his story and hearing it from the horse’s mouth makes it all the more poignant.”
For the past two years, the project has benefited from the financial backing of the Tom Maynard Trust, who has also extended support to similar educational schemes in other sports. It is, Thomas believes, a fitting legacy in memory of the former Glamorgan and Surrey batsman.
“There are lots for these young players to take away, but the one thing we want is for them to understand a little bit more about the environment that they have come into, what will be expected of them, and crucially, that people are approachable. If something good can come of Tom’s sad passing and we can stop mistakes and mishaps from cricketers in the future, than that has to be a good thing.”
To view a video of the 2014 Rookie Camp in action, please see below.