Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Smith named PCA Futures Awards overall winner

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Gloucestershire player-coach wins main award with Morris and Threlkeld announced as category winners

The winner of the 2022 PCA Futures Awards, in association with Lodders Solicitors, is Gloucestershire’s Tom Smith, who wins the sought-after personal development prize after impressing the judges with his recent off-field accomplishments.

The 35-year-old also claims the award in the CSR and Community category alongside being named the outstanding candidate of the process, made up of 23 applicants. The Gloucestershire spinner receives £3,000 to aid his personal development.

Thunder’s Fi Morris won the Business Impact prize and website build with her teammate Ellie Threlkeld picking up the award in the Academic Progression category, with both players receiving £2,000 to go towards their off-field aspirations.

Western Storm’s Fran Wilson captivated the judges at the presentation stage in the CSR and Community category winning a comprehensive IT package from PCA partners, Lucidica. Worcestershire’s Joe Leach, Gloucestershire’s Dom Goodman and Central Sparks’ Eve Jones also impressed the panel as finalists.

The PCA Futures Awards, which are part of the PCA’s Personal Development and Welfare Programme (PDWP), encourages candidates to apply with detailed information of what they have been doing away from the game. A list of finalists are then invited to deliver a presentation followed by a question and answer session based on their personal development.

The event aims to highlight the very best examples of personal development amongst the PCA membership and help those winners towards their future ambitions.

For the second year in succession, the PCA Futures Awards were held in association with Lodders Solicitors, at the law firm’s Cheltenham office. The judges had the difficult task of picking the winners from each category and an overall prize from the seven finalists, who had been whittled down from 23.

The panel, made up of Lodders Managing Partner, Paul Mourton, PCA Commercial Director, Rob Smyth and PCA Member Services Manager, Ali Prosser were extremely impressed by the aptitude of the finalists this year. All finalists completed their presentation in person on Thursday 8 December and later received a professional consultation from Lodders staff.

Overall and CSR & Community

Tom Smith (Gloucestershire)

Overall winner Smith impressed the judges with the selflessness of the off-field activities that he’s been involved in. Playing a vital role in advocating for funding from the PCA’s partnership with Vitality to support players with critical illness cover, all current male and females have now benefited from his work. The 35-year-old wanted to make his fellow professionals aware of the benefits of appropriate life cover following the death of his wife in 2018. Smith has developed his role into player-coach at Gloucestershire and is looking to spend the £3,000 on spin tracking technology to aid his coaching ambitions and to further develop his leadership qualities by signing up to an emotional intelligence course.

PCA Futures Awards Overall winner 2022, Tom Smith, said: “It’s not all about the accolade but it does mean a huge amount. With the critical health cover, the fact that over 500 playing members can benefit from that gives me a huge amount of pride.

“The PCA and the Professional Cricketers’ Trust have been great to me. Martin Cropper my Personal Development Manager encouraged me to apply and I’m so glad that I did, he’s been fantastic in helping my development.

“I’m proud that I can sit here and tell my story and the Trust has been a family to me, supporting me since before Laura died. Without that support I probably would have retired four years ago. The PCA and the Trust have given me such a rich life when there was just darkness and uncertainty.”

Business Impact

Fi Morris (Thunder)

Thunder’s Morris blew the judges away with the work she has put in to her business venture ‘The Throwing Academy’. The 28-year-old has been working as a Sports Therapist in a Physiotherapy clinic part-time and came up with the idea of a school aimed at teaching young players how to improve technique and a clinic aimed at injured athletes getting the correct rehabilitation to successfully return to the game. Standing out to the judges with particularly impressive business acumen, Morris plans to spend the £2,000 prize money on merchandise, equipment and further marketing and branding of her website.

PCA Futures Awards Business Impact winner 2022, Fi Morris, said: “It’s been a great experience and it’s made me a lot more excited about my future and my business plan. It’s given me a new lease of life and I’ve learned a lot from today. It’s the first business of its kind in the UK so I’m hoping that it will go from strength to strength.

“I wouldn’t have been able to do this without the help of the PCA regarding the courses that I’ve done and I wouldn’t have had the confidence to do this previously, so I’m very thankful to the PCA.

“The conversations I’ve had with Lodders have been so useful and they’ve made me think about things that I wouldn’t have thought about from a business perspective, it’s great to have such an engaged partner of the PCA working with us.”

Academic Progression

Ellie Threlkeld (Thunder)

Threlkeld is the deserved winner of the Academic Progression category having recently completed a Master’s qualification in Sports Psychology as well as the Level 3 Advanced Cricket Coaching Award working with the Thunder Academy and Lancashire age group teams. The 24-year-old, the judges felt, was clearly very passionate about psychology and how it helped her leadership credentials as Thunder captain and how it could help other players in the game. The future looks bright for Threlkeld as she looks to enrol on a stage two psychology qualification with the ultimate aim of setting up her own business as a sports psychologist consultant.

PCA Futures Awards Academic Progression winner 2022, Ellie Threlkeld, said: “I’ve loved today, I’ve learned a lot and it’s put me out of my comfort zone presenting in front of people which will help me in the long-run. Psychology is something that I’m passionate about and something that I enjoy and I see it as a big part of my long term future.

“The Futures Awards have exceeded all my expectations, it’s very rewarding for us players that are doing things outside of cricket knowing that there is this prize available. The partnership between Lodders and the PCA makes this all possible so it’s a huge benefit for us.

“It’s a nice reward to take home after some very hard work over the last year or so, it really makes everything feel worthwhile.”

PCA Commercial Director, Rob Smyth, said: “Being part of the whole process has been great and I’ve been very impressed by every candidate.

“They are professionals on the sports pitch but also in the boardroom which is a great skillset to have.

“The Lodders sponsorship is crucial to the Futures Awards, not just in the venue and the money but in the support they give to the players.”

Lodders Solicitors Managing Partner, Paul Mourton, said: “We received some very strong applications from a variety of backgrounds. The myriad of applications was very insightful and interesting to see.

“This is the second year we’ve been involved with the PCA Futures Awards and it means a great deal. A lot of our partners and staff are getting more and more involved. We’re a firm that values our people and we want to be able to give something back.”

Find out more about the PCA Futures Awards supported by Lodders Solicitors, as well as the PCA’s wider Personal Development and Welfare Programme (PDWP).

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