Football trials and tribulations of a pro footballer Part 2
Part 2: Football trials and tribulations of a pro footballer.
One in four people suffer with mental health, or so the official
statistics report! But it’s probably more than that! How many people have been
depressed or suffered a bereavement? Then factor in being a young professional
football player and the pressures these young men and women are under. Most
people will probably think it’s easy to be a professional, but the journey is
very different to the destination. I always remember hearing Rio Ferdinand
saying the worst thing about being a professional athlete is having pasta for
breakfast. Now imagine that, along with constant training, pressure to perform
and do well in a very short career, there is pressure from media and maybe even
friends or god forbid family. Well after the first blog with Scott, here
is the second and final part. We had previously been discussing the virtues of
a young professional football player with a view to mental health / wellness in
Mental Health and Wellness
I asked Scott about this later, in terms of what is different about him compared to all his peers. But for now, I needed to stay on track and keep focused about the subject matter at hand. This was mental health and wellness. So I asked Scott, how do you think a released player may feel on release and what advice would you give them? He responded with “it’s frustrating to see friends and peers not get through, and I have seen it directly, some players have certain expectations and that’s fine, but if you remain patient and have fun with it I think that comes through in how you play too’’. He went on to say “it must be difficult, especially if you have been at an academy for a long time, but the coaches really help. John Brady for example helps players get into clubs like Rushden and Kettering. So, he does a great job’’. His answer was remarkable. It actually made me want to ask him about other pro players and their thoughts on this matter, but more of this later. So, I pressed on with the subject of mental health, but from a player’s perspective. The reason I state this is because I have somewhat focused on this issue but more from a scout or coach’s perspective, so I really wanted to know what it felt like for a successful player to see his friends potentially fall by the wayside. This unfortunate consequence of academy football seems to be rife in our society and something that we all seem to just accept, but it’s still a pressing issue.
Coping with Mental Health
So, I asked Scott ‘’How do you think players deal with wellbeing and mental health?’’. He responded with ‘’ I have seen it from a young age to be honest ever since I was in youth teams. It must be hard on some players, as some are in academies for up to 10 years, then the next day they are not a part of the club, or training or anything’’. He went on to say ‘’it must be annoying in some sense but really the best bet is to have a back-up plan. That’s what I did. Even now I am doing a degree in Sports Anatomy and Coaching’’. This struck me, and I thought immediately this young man will go far. This type of coping strategy to me appears as though Scott will be successful in anything he does. To have a back-up plan is one of the greatest pieces of advice I have ever heard from such a young, talented and yet very mature person. It’s something I tell all of my students all of the time.
This made me want to press on about what clubs do to help, but Scott beat me to it. He started to explain that all clubs along with the PFA help players with funding for higher education post 18. He spoke very highly of Northampton Town and all the impressive work they do in this area and also the great work that the education academy does too. He did say, as a general piece of advice for players, to stay in touch with the coaches upon release and to keep some form of link with the club even if you do get the bad news you will no longer be playing football at whatever club you are at.
Released Players Conference
My time was coming to an end with Scott, I wanted to ask him so much more, as it was truly a fascinating conversation to have in so many ways. So, I started to tell him a bit about my journey, being an ex-Royal Marine Commando and how when I left the shock of release into civilian life really took me back. This is where my inspiration to help young footballers who are released, comes from, and that ultimately, I want to help people. This lead to me telling Scott about Pitch, a website that helps released players get identified, and my plans for a conference on this topic (see website here). I have actually been conducting a scouting survey to see what their interest may be like for this conference, and the response has been amazing. If interested in taking the survey, please see here. Anyway, I discussed this conference for released players, and I asked if he would be interested in attending, and to my delight he agreed. So, everyone, watch this space, the conference will be coming next year, and all Pitch members will be able to receive a discount for the conference! Scott is a highly talented, genuine young man and I asked him for some closing words or advice for players when released. He aptly responded with ‘’be patient, and develop an attitude that’s hard working, dedicated, allows sacrifices, and remain motivated. If you have the drive and work rate on and off the field, you will be okay. Plus, if you develop a back-up plan you will be fine’’. Words like this will stay with me. It was an absolute pleasure to talk to him, and I am sure he will be a success in all that he does.
Check out Scott on Instagram @scott_pollock12 or on Twitter @Scott_pollock12
Check out Pitch on Instagram @pitch_football_talent or on Twitter @RateRmt
If you are a scout, and interested in the survey please see here