PCA PRESS RELEASE
Kent batter sets up GRIT Sport Coaching with long-time friend.
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Former Kent big-hitter Alex Blake is exploring future career options through his sports coaching business.
The 34-year-old was recently released by the county he spent 16 years as a professional at but despite the set-back, Blake has a positive outlook on pursuing his next career through GRIT Sport Coaching where he is a director.
The PCA sat down with Blake as part of Futures Week, which aims to highlight personal development achievements and transition stories throughout the PCA membership.
Futures Week forms part of the PCA’s Futures initiatives, alongside the Futures Awards which recognise PCA members who have taken steps towards building a second career.
The PCA helps support players with significant educational funding to grow their personal development alongside and even after their professional career. Members can log in and find out more information.
"It gives me a sense of pride seeing kids improving all the time. Coming towards the end of my career at 34, it gives me a drive to move forwards.”
With 330 professional appearances to his name and more than 6,000 runs, Blake hasn’t given up on his playing career, as he continues to explore contracts both in this country and abroad.
“It’s pretty emotional for it to come to an end, considering I’ve been there since I was eight years old. I still hold out hope that I could sign a white-ball or short term contract. If something does arise that suits my situation, my intention is to carry on playing, I’m certainly not retired.
“Franchise tournaments are popping up more frequently and I’ve played in Nepal and America, so there’s a lot of opportunity. I’d love to still take part in those. I did pretty well in the Nepal one last year and it would be great if franchises could prolong my career.”
Blake has been coaching for a few years now, running one-to-one sessions which focussed on white-ball power hitting alongside balancing his white-ball playing commitments. The opportunity to set up a new coaching business and take over coaching in the Bromley area came up and Blake ceased the opportunity with the help of long-time friend and Hayes CC teammate, Will MacVicar.
“I realised I couldn’t always be there on the coaching front and my best mate Will is a coach too, so I asked if he would be interested. He was keen so then we set up GRIT Sport Coaching as a company.
“It stands for gratitude, respect, intelligence and teamwork which I think sums up our coaching ethos. We’re not just limited to cricket and we want to expand into other sports.”
The company has recently put on masterclasses using Blake’s extensive contacts book as GRIT Sports Coaching looks to expand to more clubs and schools.
“We’re the directors of the company and we put people through their coaching badges and then they come and work for us. We’ve done sessions with Zak Crawley, Joe Denly and Daniel Bell-Drummond.
“We’re trying to forge a reputation and offer slightly different sessions to what is currently on offer, and all the feedback we’ve got over the last year has been really positive. We’re trying to grow the business and make it so we’ve got stuff going on all year round. It gives me a sense of pride seeing kids improving all the time. Coming towards the end of my career at 34, it gives me a drive to move forwards.”
Blake is keen to pursue a career in coaching once his professional playing career comes to an end and he hopes that GRIT Sport Coaching will enable him to achieve that goal.
“I’m excited about the coaching business but I don’t know whether this will let me stay in the game, the company certainly gives me that foundation.
“Hopefully I can continue playing but with the coaching business in place I could transition in to that on a more permanent basis. The aim is we want to get into schools and start running their curriculum. We’re trying to put the right building blocks in place to make the company successful.”
The middle-order batter has recently lent on the PCA to explore what other options might be available to him.
“I’ve used the PCA recently when looking for loan contracts and the new Kent Personal Development Manager Matt Footman has been really good in the last few weeks telling me about the PCA Futures initiatives which seem really good and something I’d be keen to explore.”
Futures Week shines a light on the area of personal development and career transition among PCA members. The two-day Futures Conference forms the centrepiece of the initiative and both are part of the PCA’s Personal Development and Welfare Programme (PDWP). Click here to find out more.