PCA PRESS RELEASE
"I became powerless and it was out of my control... I had to hit rock bottom to realise how badly I needed help."
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Former Northamptonshire bowler Patrick Foster was released before ever taking to the field for their first XI whilst he was also studying and captaining Durham MCCU in the late 2000s.
Despite not making an appearance for a first-class county, Foster became a PCA member upon signing professional terms with Northants but was released shortly afterwards. Once players become members of the Professional Cricketers’ Association, they are members for life, meaning all current and former players are treated equally with access to the Professional Cricketers’ Trust.
The 31-year-old has written a blog where he discusses his journey from professional cricket, working in the City, teaching and how the Trust are supporting him against his life-threatening gambling addiction…
Cricket has been my passion all my life. I started when I was very little. I was actually born and brought up in Kenya so access to cricket was limited. Then when I moved over to the UK aged six I really got into it.
I was 15 when I got picked up by the Northants academy and then I signed my first full time contract at the age of 18 and that was a really proud moment. I realised pretty quickly you had to make some pretty big sacrifices and also how tough it was to get to the top.
However, things didn’t materialise with Northants and I was released which was a tough pill to swallow.
At the time, a lot of my mates were going into London and had jobs working in finance in the City so I decided that was what I was going to have a go at and I spent 18 months working in the City in insurance and I certainly had a good time but it wasn’t for me workwise.
I had access to a lot more money, a hobby I had at university was gambling, and I began gambling very heavily when I was in the City and things very quickly started to spiral out of control. At the back of my mind I knew my family were all in teaching so I turned my attention to that.
Part of my motivation for moving into teaching trying to put a stop to the gambling but it made things worse.
With my family in teaching, I knew what I was getting myself in for and I was lucky enough to get a job in a great school and I think in some respects things came a bit too easy and I started to build up debts, not just through gambling but my lifestyle.
I had to turn to individuals and at first it was small favours and that built into very, very significant loans and sums of money.
My life became monopolised by gambling, it was all I did, and it’s all I wanted to do. I became powerless and it was out of my control, I have since learnt that is what addiction does to you and I had to hit rock bottom to realise how badly I needed help.
I knew all along I needed help but in my heart of hearts, I didn’t want it and was so scared, fearful and ashamed of what I was doing. I had suicidal thoughts for quite a long time and it was like being on an emotional rollercoaster.
I did research into the ways to commit suicide and it got to the point where I was collecting pills in my house ready to overdose. I also thought about driving my car off the road and it ultimately led to me standing on the edge of a train platform and 10 minutes later… you just don’t know.
At that point, I had to come clean and I knew I desperately needed help but who am I going to turn to – what am I going to do? I actually turned to my brother, I sent him a message and told him exactly what the situation was and I said I really need help but was then very quick to tell him not to tell anybody.
I soon after caught up with a close friend who is an ex-pro cricketer and he had spoken to somebody else and they said ‘has Patrick contacted to the PCA or spoken to the Professional Cricketers’ Trust’? and I thought I would give it a go but thought what are they going to be able to do because as far as I’m concerned I am a nobody when it comes to cricket.
"The Trust along with the treatment centre I went to have saved my life."
The Professional Cricketers’ Trust were incredible to me – not just in terms of their emotional support but also with the financial side of things and advice. The Trust became my support network away from my family, I am indebted to them enormously, and the Trust along with the treatment centre I went to have saved my life.
One of the things I am doing now and as part of my rehab is speaking out about my experiences. I want to help other people come out and get the help they need. I am helping the Trust by going into counties and particularly the academies. The accessibility and exposure to gambling is huge.
Alongside this, I am now working for a company called EPIC Risk Management. EPIC is established as the leading independent gambling harm-minimisation consultancy in the UK and Ireland, specialising in the identification and prevention of problematic gambling in high risk sectors.
Gambling had a huge impact on my life financially and I will be battling that for as long as I am alive so if I can make a difference to one person then it will all be worthwhile, it’s just a small way of giving back and saying thank you.
If you are going through any kind of addiction then please pick up the phone to Ian Thomas, I can’t speak highly enough of the support he provided for me through the Trust. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org or call him on 07920 575 578
For more information on the Professional Cricketers’ Trust, click here.