After the Final Whistle
Posted by siteadmin on Tuesday 26th of November 2019.
In my first blog, I talk about what is was like to have my team call time on my professional career and what happened next.
Jonny Arr, ex-Professional rugby player, Mortgage Adviser, up and coming Financial Adviser.
It’s fair to say that things have changed a little for me over the last six months. At the start of May I was walking off the field from my 217th and final game for the Worcester Warriors. At that exact point and for a little while after, I found myself in a state of limbo, with no real certainty as to where my next career move would take me. Yet here I am, writing my first blog entry as a Trainee Financial Adviser. It’s no surprise that people often ask me how on earth that change came about and often I find myself asking the same question. So, I think it’s important that we start this blog by going back …
Where the ending began…
Back to January 2019. I’d just touched down in Washington D.C. A rare mid-season break had prompted a visit to the USA for a well overdue catch up with my fiancé’s family. I was in the middle of my 12th season with the Worcester Warriors, a place where I had played rugby since the age of 7. Mental breaks and recharging the batteries away from the game were hugely important. It gave the body and mind a rest from the relentless stresses and pressures of professional sport.
Not long after I had touched down, the phone rang. It was Alan Solomans, Director of Rugby at Worcester Warriors. A phone call from Solly usually meant one thing…you were getting dropped from the team. Unfortunately for me, at that point in time, getting dropped wasn’t even an option considering I wasn’t in the team in the first place. This wasn’t going to be a pleasant call, I thought to myself. The call was short and Solly didn’t give much away, only that he wanted to see if I was available to come in for a meeting. Being thousands of miles away, the meeting would have to wait but I didn’t need to be a rocket scientist to work out what it would be about.
Up until this point, the Warriors had been announcing their resigning’s for the forthcoming season. With the rumour mill gathering apace, it was becoming clear who was going to be apart of the Warriors next push for Premiership stability. It was becoming pretty evident that the odds of me being on that journey were slim.
Fast forward 7 days, and I found myself sat in Solly’s office ready for the inevitable. And in the matter of minutes, seconds in fact, at least one part of my future was clear. For the first time in as long as I could remember, my future would not be as a Worcester Warrior.
My immediate feelings were mixed. Yes, there was the initial sense of disappointment. This had been more than a place of work to me. It may sound cheesy, but, it was genuinely like home and I was now putting the for sale sign out on the front lawn. In simple terms, I was told I was no longer good enough, and that’s a tough pill to swallow. Yet, the decision also seemed to lift a huge weight off my shoulders. Whilst I didn’t know at the time where it would take me, change was on the horizon and that brought intrigue and excitement.
I set about finding another professional club, but over the next couple of months things didn’t go as planned. The transfer market was playing out in a peculiar fashion thanks to several factors, including being in the middle of a World Cup Year, and I wasn’t alone finding a new club hard to come by. What made it stranger still was fans and players approaching me congratulating me on who I’d signed for. “That’s news to me”, I would often say bemused. The rumour mill was rife with speculation.
But a scary reality was now settling in. In a matter of months, my pay slips would stop coming in. There was still no new rugby club and I could no longer assume one was going to come in and sweep me off my feet. It was time to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.
Rugby has always come first, and I believe it must if you want to forge a career at the top. The commitment and effort required to get into a professional side and then stay there is immense. I was very aware, however, that a career would not last forever. I’d done more than some to prepare the ground for life after rugby - a First-Class Degree in Leadership and Management and a Postgraduate Certificate in Building Surveying still rank in some of my highest achievements to date. Yet I still had no idea what I wanted to do for my next career.
Time to get my head in the game
I decided that it was time to create my own luck. For the next few months, I met as many people of possible from a range of different careers and professions . I never turned down the opportunity to meet someone new. And ultimately, these conversations led me to the world of financial advice. A meeting with one adviser in particular, changed the course of my future and having never previously considered a career in financial services, it soon became apparent that it would be a great fit for me and my skillset.
What stood out for me even then, was that advising is about building meaningful relationships based on trust. Add in a level of expert knowledge on the subject area and I believe you have the recipe for success in this profession.
Outside of the play, one of my favourite parts of being a rugby player was meeting and engaging with new people, – teammates, supporters, sponsors and local business-people, and this happened on a frequent basis. I always felt comfortable and enjoyed this side of rugby. I knew I would benefit from the client engagement aspect of an advisory role.
I’m not saying rugby is no longer a priority. I have started a journey with Birmingham Moseley RFC, one which I am incredibly excited about. I now have the time and energy to commit not only to rugby, but to a new career. The balance could not be better for me at 30 years of age - I get to play the game I love and prepare for a time, on my own terms, when this will no longer be possible. So that’s how I arrived at my new destination, having felt a little lost along the way.
I’m writing my own sequel
Before I bring this to an end, I think it is important to say that despite a turbulent year, full of uncertainty, I consider myself one of the lucky ones. I have been fortunate to live out a 12-year career playing professional sport for the team I grew up supporting. I have seen so many former teammates’ careers cut horribly short through injury and dreams shattered in a split second. I have seen players depart clubs on bad terms having committed so much, only to leave left with a bitter taste in the mouth. I have seen players struggle with their own transition away from the professional game, battling with mental health issues.
I am lucky, because I move forward with my head held high. No regrets, no grudges, no bad feelings. I have found new challenges, supported by great people. I move on looking forward into the future, grateful for the journey that has led me to this point in time. I will look back, only to remember the good times, the memories that bring a smile to my face. I’m not saying it’s been easy, it hasn’t, but I have the opportunity to not just start a new chapter but to start a new story, a sequel if you will, like Lord of The Rings, The Two Towers, just with less orcs and goblins (well, hopefully anyway).
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