In the ever-evolving landscape of professional sports, athletes can be encouraged to have a singular focus on their game, dedicating their lives to perfecting their skills on the field. However, a growing recognition of the need for skill diversity and alternative career paths has led to initiatives such as the ACA’s Education Grants, which play a pivotal role in promoting vocational training and skill development among cricketers.
Enter Skills Week, an event that underscores the importance of acquiring skills beyond conventional University training, dedicated to raising the profile and status of vocational learning.
New South Wales Breaker and Sydney Thunder all-rounder, Sammy-Jo Johnson spoke to us about the importance of the ACA's Education Grants and the broader significance of vocational training and alternative education paths. Sammy-Jo emphasized the crucial role that these grants play in diversifying career opportunities for athletes and helping them prepare for life beyond the cricketing world.
“A few years ago, I ran a landscaping business in Brisbane and I did a Cert 4 in Small Business training through the ACAs Ed Grants which really helped open my eyes to what I need to do to actually run a business.”
She shed light on the significance of vocational training and alternative education paths, highlighting the need to tap into a range of opportunities beyond the traditional university route. While universities offer avenues for careers such as medicine or teaching, many cricketers aspire to explore other areas that align with their interests, such as mechanics or truck driving. This highlights the importance of offering opportunities for apprenticeships and vocational training, enabling athletes to develop skills that can lead to careers in a more diverse range of sectors.
Looking to the future, Sammy-Jo expressed a desire to delve into mechanics, an area that she has always had an interest in. “I’m now looking to go down more of a mechanical path, just trying to find those companies that are willing to take on semi-professional or professional athletes and trying to get into that mechanical workspace.”
For Sammy-Jo, the ACA's education grants have proven instrumental. Her experience exemplifies how this financial support can empower athletes to acquire practical skills and qualifications, broadening their horizons in unforeseen ways.
Her journey serves as an inspiration for aspiring athletes, particularly those looking to venture into male-dominated industries. With a personal experience of being one of only 2 females driving trucks at the trucking company she casually drives trucks for between her cricket commitments which highlights the empowerment that comes from breaking gender stereotypes and succeeding in unconventional roles.
Sammy-Jo’s advice for females thinking about getting involved in a male-dominant industry?
“I’d just say go out there and have a crack. There are so many cool things that girls can do. I’m driving trucks and it’s just so empowering. Hopefully other girls can get out there, get into those niche markets and test the water.”
The ACA’s Education Grants and initiatives like Skills Week have significantly enhanced the outlook for cricketers seeking to diversify their skills and careers. Embracing vocational training and alternative education paths, allows athletes to explore alternative training and develop skills that extend beyond the cricketing sphere. By supporting athletes in their pursuit of skills and qualifications, the ACA is fostering a generation of well-rounded cricketers equipped for success both on and off the field. Sammy-Jo’s journey serves as a testament to the transformative power of these initiatives, as they inspire others to challenge conventions, break barriers, and pave their own paths to success.
“I wouldn’t be where I am without the ACAs support in terms of the grants and the funding that’s been able to help me. I was able to get my truck license through funding from the ACA. Driving trucks casually outside of cricket has been a massive thing for me and those grants are really important, especially to get people into the more niche markets.”
For more information on career development opportunities, ACA Members can reach out to their PDM.