Guest post from Danny Thomas, ex footballer now Business Development Executive and podcast host.
Most athletes don’t prepare for a career after sport.
We tend to prolong the inevitable in favour of ‘focusing’ solely on our chosen sport. Personally, I think preparing for life after sport is vital to our natural growth and it will definitely aid your transition into your next career path, whether that be within sport or another industry.
But always do what’s right for you, as there’s no right or wrong way to approach retirement.
Although I didn’t physically lay any solid foundations with regards to preparation for life after sport, I was always mentally aware from my early twenties that I’d probably have to work after football. I do believe that this helped my transition process.
I didn’t have a specific avenue that I wanted to pursue but I knew that I didn’t want to go into football coaching. I wanted to try something different. I reached a crossroads at the age of 31 where I had a successful spell having won the league playing in Iceland’s top division. I came back to England after one season abroad and was considering whether to continue to play football. Although I was still very fit, I was conscious that time was ticking on my football career and I was aware that my CV was just sports-based.
As an athlete I’d always been quite intrigued by property and knew that it was a sustainable industry. My thought process as an athlete was that if I was to retire through my own choice that I would need to move into a sustainable career.
A few months after returning from Iceland I embarked on a career in the property industry, working in the lettings department in a local estate agent. I felt so proud that I’d secured a role via the conventional interview process, with nothing on my CV in terms of work experience. I had to sell myself through my personality. But I also researched the company and understood what they were looking for. This was so important when going through the interview process, asking questions and always asking for feedback – that will assist you going forward.
I took a massive hit on my salary as they knew that they were taking a punt on me and I was aware I’d need to start at the bottom and learn the ropes. However, I knew that I was willing to learn and succeed and there was room to progress within the company.
Within a year I’d been promoted, and was generating new business for the company by valuing properties for landlords. I had also gained the ARLA accreditation which is not a requirement, but shows pedigree.
It’s so important that athletes understand that they do have transferable skills suited to other industries and not just sport.
I believe that organisations are now seeing the value that sportspeople can offer and as a result are more willing to employ them.
I still believe that we need to do more to spread the word though.
Athletes think differently, we tend to see things from a different perspective. Sport is also a great talking point and I see that more now having retired.
I am now a Business Development Executive within a property technology/software company called Nimbus Maps, we provide a platform that incorporates property data for off market opportunities to prospective clients within the property industry.
In April 2020 I started my own podcast called Back of the Net and Beyond where I speak to former/current professional athletes and figures within sport regarding transitioning into another career. I want to make people aware that athletes do have transferable skills suited to other industries. Conversations are light-hearted but insightful and informative, recorded remotely and uploaded to most major platforms.
I’d like to finish by saying good luck to any athlete that is approaching or going through the transition period. Be positive, research, use your network, explore different things because the first thing you try may not be the thing you most want to do but it’s all about experiences. Control what matters and never be afraid to ask for help.
LAPS Members can discuss Danny’s post on our Community page.