400 professional football appearances. Representing your country at the highest level. Robbie Simpson and Hannah Gallagher have been at the top of their game.
Years of commitment, hard work and dedication to one profession. How do you plan for life after professional sport?
In this Q&A with Network My Club Founder & Managing Director, Robbie, founder of Life After Professional Sport, and Hannah, former England Rugby player and Member Support Manager at LAPS, speak about their transition from the pitch to boardroom; how it all ended, the mental health effects, and ways they’re helping current sportspeople plan for the future.
What’s a standout moment in your career?
RS: My first full debut for Coventry was at Old Trafford against Manchester United. All my family are Man Utd fans and we ended up beating them 2-0! My other was the best goal of my career against Liverpool in the FA Cup. We ended up losing 5-1 but we don’t talk about that.
The best goal of my career was against Liverpool at Anfield!
HG: Within 5 minutes of my second cap for England against New Zealand, I scored my first try. Later on in the game I also got my first yellow card!
What’s the mindset of an athlete towards the end of their career?
RS: Worry mainly. Most sportspeople want to play forever, but most don’t realise they can’t before it’s too late. Thinking to yourself, what am I going to do? With LAPS, we try to give them that avenue towards the end of their careers.
HG: I was very young and planning to play until I was mid-30s at least. Then I ruptured my ACL a few days before we were set to play against Scotland in the 6 Nations. As soon as it happened, I knew it was a big injury.
Rehab went well and I was almost ready to be back, then my knee went again. The surgeons and physios advised me to stop playing. It was an incredibly difficult time for me.
Sportspeople want to play forever, but most don’t realise they can’t before it’s too late.
Mentally that must’ve been tough Hannah. Take us into your mind during that time, what are you thinking?
HG: The first time was hard, but I was very focussed on getting back. Most people return from ACL injuries. I rushed back way too quick though. The second it was pure worry. My mental health suffered massively; I saw a sports psychiatrist for a year as I didn’t know what I wanted to do. LAPS helped me ‘move on’ enormously.
Robbie, how did you start LAPS?
RS: I left Oldham Athletic in the summer of 2013 and, although I thought I had a good season, I didn’t get an offer from a club I wanted. My footballing career was in limbo, I thought it might all be over. I looked on the PFA (Professional Footballers’ Association) website and saw 400 people in the same position as me. There wasn’t really anything out there to help them after their career.
I saw 400 footballers in the same position as me. There wasn’t really anything out there to help them after their career.
What’s LAPS like from an athlete’s perspective?
HG: It’s amazing. LAPS has made me realise I had skills I never knew I had. Having spoken to people in different industries and sectors, it made me realise how desired athletes are because of our mindset. We’re typically driven, focussed and coachable.
LAPS has made me realise I had skills I never knew I had.
What’s a skill atheltes have that can be used in business?
RS: Sportspeople naturally have amazing traits they don’t realise they have. If I had to pick one, sportspeople tend to learn from failure really quickly. You analyse it, learn from it and put it right the next time. That’s really desirable for employers.
HG: Driven, organised, stubborn in the sense that: if we want to do it – we’ll do it. Our work ethic is usually second to none.
How can businesses get involved with LAPS?
RS: If you’ve got any type of opportunity: allowing a member to come in for work experience or job opportunities, get in touch! Find out more and get in touch via the link below.