PCA PRESS RELEASE
One year on from his rock bottom, Foster teams up with the PCA to educate youngsters.
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Former Northamptonshire bowler Patrick Foster concludes his gambling education for the first-class academies next week, just 12-months after attempting to take his own life due to his own addiction.
A year ago to the day, after losing £50,000 across 19 different accounts on the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the 31-year-old hit rock bottom after years of obsessive gambling resulted in a failed suicide attempt.
Within months, Foster was on his road to recovery after a period in a treatment centre and he told his story to the Professional Cricketers’ Trust earlier this year. The Trust’s aim is to support PCA members and their immediate families when they need it most, something he found out first hand and to repay the charity he has been documenting his successful recovery in workshops throughout the country.
The former Durham MCCU captain left the professional game after just two years on the staff at Northants and without an appearance for the first team. However, as with all professional cricketers once you become a PCA member, you are a member for life which provides access to the Professional Cricketers’ Trust.
Foster started the workshops with the first-class academies at Somerset in October and finishes with Middlesex next week, meaning all 18 clubs will have received vital education to their academy players and Foster has a clear objective.
“As much as it sounds like a cliché if I can help one person to not be in that situation it is worth it,” said Foster. “The way gambling is moving with the modern generation hearing about it at a younger age, the earlier they receive education, the better.
“Having a background in sport with cricket my passion, I have found there is always a soft spot for cricketers as we want to help our own.
“People are more susceptible in professional sport, now I understand that and the more I can help the better. What the PCA is doing across the board in all different areas is incredible, there’s a lot more of it than when I played and having that understanding and that knowledge there that people are there to support you helps enormously.
“I base my sessions on my own experience so I talk through my lived experience and then a bit of education around gambling as an issue, how people can look out for signs in themselves and others to hopefully prevent it from happening. Then I discuss how the PCA have supported me and the amazing work the Professional Cricketers’ Trust do and have done for me.
“The sessions have been really well received and they have all engaged. Having a story they can relate to and a background they can connect to makes a big difference. We try not to make it like a lecture but more about making informed choices around it and awareness is the biggest thing really.”
The PCA Personal Development and Welfare Programme have highlighted the risks of gambling over recent years and teamed up with EPIC Risk Management in 2017 to deliver workshop to senior squads. After the PCA facilitated an introduction to EPIC, Foster is now working with the organisation as Education Manager but still has to manage his rehabilitation one day at a time.
“The second you get complacent is where it might bite you in the backside.
“I really do have to take it day by day, the initial stages are much harder, people say ‘do you miss it, do you think about it’? Well, of course I do because it was such a big part of my life.
“I try not to look back and I try to look forward as much as possible. I would never want to be back in that situation or compromise what I have now because having a second chance at life is a gift and I have to embrace it and do everything I can to help myself and other people.”
“The way gambling is moving with the modern generation hearing about it at a younger age so the earlier they receive education, the better."
Lynsey Williams is one of six PCA Personal Development Managers and she facilitated the recent workshop with the Nottinghamshire Academy and explained the need to educate players who are technically not yet PCA members.
“The PCA consider academy players as part of our wider membership. They are future professionals and we know gambling is a key topic area for young sportsmen.
“One of the main initiatives with the academies this year is about upskilling them about the pitfalls of getting into gambling and giving them the knowledge to make informed decisions.
We want to equip academy players with skills that will help them with their transition, whether that’s into the professional cricket or a career in a different field.”
To find out more about the Personal Development and Welfare programme, click here.