Ex-Durham man on his journey from professional cricketer to personal trainer.

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Former Durham seamer Jamie Harrison has admitted that he wishes he had given more thought to life after cricket whilst still a professional.

Harrison, 28, last turned out for the Durham first team in July 2016. Having played at the top level of domestic cricket for nearly four years, he began to struggle with a succession of injuries, which eventually saw him lose his Durham contract later that year.

Since then, he has experienced the lows that come with anxiety and depression, and the significant highs of qualifying as a personal trainer and welcoming a baby daughter into the world. He currently works at a gym in St Helens, near his birthplace of Whiston, whilst he completes a sports science bachelor’s degree at Liverpool John Moores University.

“During my time at Durham there was definitely a bit of naivety and arrogance about me and most of the lads,” Harrison recalls.

“I just thought that when the time came I would be alright and do what I needed to do in order to transition into a second career.

“I didn’t appreciate how long it would take to do the qualification I wanted to do, as well as how long it would take to plan it all out.”

During his playing days, Harrison was plagued not just by the physical aspects of his recurring knee injuries, but also by the impact they had on his mental health.

“I had a knee operation which I rushed the rehab back from. I began to think ‘I’ve only got 12 months left on my contract and I need to get back on that pitch.’

“I developed a lot of anxiety and mental health issues around that time, which the PCA really did help me with.”

As is so often the case with professional sportsmen and women, Harrison concedes that being away from the team environment had a sizeable negative impact on his mental state.

“Being out of the bubble and sat in bed unable to walk down the stairs whilst all the other lads are training – I think a lot of sportsman would struggle to cope with that.”

“If I could go back and speak to myself then, I would say ‘don’t wait another five or six months before phoning up the PCA.’”

With encouragement from family and friends, Harrison decided to get in touch with his Personal Development Manager, ex-Yorkshire and Glamorgan batsman Matthew Wood, to plan out his next steps.

“We actually met at a Starbucks in the Trafford Centre, where we sat down to make a five year plan.

“We went through the steps and discussed how the PCA could help and what would be required from me.

“As a sportsman, I’m used to setting myself six month goals so it was definitely something I could relate to.”

With guidance from Wood and funding from the PCA, Harrison decided to enrol on a level 3 personal training course, before moving on to begin a four year sports science degree, which he is yet to complete.

“I received a large amount of funding from the PCA which was a huge blessing. Obviously when you leave cricket you go from earning a large amount of money to realising you’re making a hell of a lot less.

“Applying for funding is an easy process. I just have to go through the procedure of filling out the funding form and sending it across, as well as providing evidence of receipts.”

The 28-year-old’s ultimate aim is to work at a professional sports club in the Merseyside area. The recent arrival of a baby daughter has further motivated Harrison to succeed in his new career.

“You hear about guys losing their identity when they leave professional sport and sliding down that slippery slope.

“I lost my identity when I left cricket but my daughter coming along has made me go from being a sportsman to being a father. She really is a blessing”

To find out more information on the PCA’s Personal Development and Welfare Programme click here or contact your regional Personal Development Manager.