Switch The Play welcomes recommendations made by the Duty of Care Review

02 May Switch The Play welcomes recommendations made by the Duty of Care Review

Switch the Play welcomes the findings of the independent Duty of Care Review led by Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson. As a social enterprise dedicated to finding and delivering solutions that smooth athlete transition we hope it will act as a driver for change; encouraging the entire sporting community to work together to support the development and wellbeing of athletes.

Enabling athletes to fulfill their potential through and beyond sport is what drives us. We believe supporting their holistic development at all stages of their lifecycle helps to develop better people AND better athletes. Whilst we believe the highest standards need to be in place and monitored, we also want to see better support for organisations that will assist them in reaching and exceeding these standards.

We fully support the call for greater sharing and for the development of common approaches, and are currently working with organisations including UK Sport, Sport England, the Premier League, and are keen to continue to work in collaboration with practitioners, academics, and other organisations who have an interest in putting the needs of the athlete first.

Switch the Play Director, former England rugby international, and author of ‘Life After Sport’, Leon Lloyd:

“It is evident there is a need for clarity around what good looks like in terms of duty of care, and in particular focussing on the rounded social development of athletes. We believe there is a need for an independent layer that will hold organisations to account for maintaining those standards. Given many of the current global issues in sport, we believe this layer of independence is critical in ensuring sport cannot be challenged for marking its own homework. Since building Switch the Play eighteen months ago, our experience and research has reinforced the findings identified by the Review, and whilst there are many organisations doing a really good job, it is clear that credible advice and support is required. Switch the Play is being approached by more and more athletes, players and coaches who don’t know where to go for trusted, impartial, credible advice.”

We are pleased that a number of areas from our own response to the Duty of Care consultation, appear to have been supported by other consultees and picked up by the Working Group who should also take credit for overseeing the work. This includes;

• the need for independent assurance;
• the importance of benchmarking and understanding what good looks like including understanding retention rates and the progression pathway of those leaving the system;
• the value of the performance lifestyle/player welfare function;
• the success of approaches like the Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence, an area where our Director Steve Mitchell continues to be recognised as a thought leader;
• the critical importance of actively encouraging athletes to consider and talk about their future plans, allowing time to do this, and providing them with information and support wherever possible about career options and skills development;
• utilising (and further building upon) athlete transition research to inform approaches.

Since the review was announced developments across the sporting landscape have reinforced the heightened need for focus in this area. Founded by a unique mix of sportsmen and women, experienced practitioners, respected academics and successful business professionals, Switch the Play believes the sporting system cannot be about winning at any cost. Athlete and player welfare must be a basic principle embedded in the way sports operate.

Chris Brindley, Non-Executive Director at Switch the Play, is currently mentoring several retired athletes in both in business and some on our own Athlete Journey. He notes:

“As the Review states this is not about de-prioritising winning or elite success, but we feel a culture change is needed, with greater recognition, to borrow a phrase from James Kerr’s book about the All Blacks, that better people make better athletes. We would argue that creating such an environment does help initiate and sustain success in sport. That’s why Switch the Play have developed our unique package of masterclasses focussed on developing the person within the athlete; providing the skills required to thrive in any context, under any pressure, in face of any challenge, and through any change. We would love to contribute to being part of the solution working with the industry – NGBs, player associations and national agencies. We are particularly pleased to see the importance of areas such as financial planning and the role of parents acknowledged, areas which we have developed Masterclasses, based upon our insight and discussions with people across the industry.”

As part of our continued commitment to this area Switch the Play are delivering a series of masterclasses for current and former athletes at Hotel Football in Manchester on the 18th May covering subjects such as transferable skills, building your personal brand, self-awareness, and maximising your network. For further information please see the notes below or click here to book your place.

It is critical that the Review is only the start point and that the recommendations are followed through, particularly in the challenging period in which athletes exit a performance pathway/professional career. The dark side of transition has been highlighted recently by several high-profile cases where sportsmen and women have talked openly about their struggle to cope with a loss of identity post career. At Switch the Play, our approach is simple – help athletes to understand the transition journey they will all go on at least once in their careers, encouraging them to develop themselves away from the sporting arena, with the right skills, knowledge and networks to transition smoothly. Planning and preparation are key to this and we all have a duty of care to work collaboratively to ensure all athletes can achieve this.


Details regarding our Masterclasses on the 18th May in Manchester include:

The Brand of You: Your ‘brand’ can be the making or breaking of you. Personal branding is about how you are perceived by others and how this influences them. It’s about how you present yourself using a number of factors including physical appearance, behaviour, personality, knowledge and goals. Your every action sends out a signal, be that positive or negative, which means that everything you do can have an immediate and lasting impact on your own personal brand and the opportunities that are linked. It can take years and hard work to create a brand, but only seconds to damage it.                                                                                                                                                
• Delivered by our newest Director (to be announced on the day), alongside Chris Brindley, Non Executive Director of Switch The Play and former Managing Director of Metro Bank.

• Start time 1045hrs; duration 90 minutes; refreshments available at our Networking Lunch which closes at 1400hrs

• To book please click here

Self-Awareness: I love to plan; my partner prefers to act on impulse. I love to be the centre of attention; my sister prefers the solitude of her own company and a good book. My house is a complete mess; my mum’s house is the epitome of order. Have you ever wondered why we are all subtly different, why we all have our own unique way of doing things; our individual likes and dislikes; or our annoying habits and attractive qualities? Every behaviour or action we produce is the result of our own personal beliefs, attitudes, past experiences, emotions, feelings, memories, perceptions, and unique character type. 

• Delivered by Dr. Jenn Bennett, Leading Performance Psychologist currently working with the FA.

• Start time 1045hrs; duration 90 minutes; refreshments available at our Networking Lunch which closes at 1400hrs

• To book please click here

Transferable Skills: Identifying and effectively communicating your transferable skills is vitally important when seeking your next career, and managing your current one. Understanding your individual role within a team and how your actions and decisions impact on others does not just happen in sport. However, having the ability to make decisions under intense pressure, the resilience to bounce back from setbacks and being a good communicator are a few everyday key skills that employers desperately seek to enhance their teams.

• Delivered by Switch The Play Director, former England Rugby International, and author of ‘Life After Sport,’ Leon Lloyd 

• Start time 1415hrs; duration 90 minutes; refreshments available at our Networking Lunch from 1200hrs

• To book please click here
Maximising Your Network: The Founder of the media giant IMG said, “when all things are equal people do business with people they like”. That may be obvious, but he then went on to say “ when things are unequal, people still do business with people they like”. This sums up why networking is so important, particularly in planning ahead for a future career and can help the transition journey much easier. Building effective networks is a trained skill, like anything else and this Masterclass will show you how to create one, work with one and benefit from one to make your life richer and more successful.

• Delivered by Chris Brindley, Non Executive Director of Switch The Play and former Managing Director of Metro Bank

• Start time 1415hrs; duration 90 minutes; refreshments available at our Networking Lunch from 1200hrs

• To book please click here