Vernon Philander: A true all-rounder

2016-03-24 09:54
Vernon Philander (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Vernon Philander is one of a growing list of Proteas players who’ve enhanced their long-term career prospects without compromising their on-field careers.

In 2014 the 30-year-old Proteas opening bowler and lower order batsman completed a course in project management through GetSmarter, choosing this course because of off-the-field activities he had become involved in…

‘I was involved in a couple of projects but at times I was struggling with the planning and management of them, that’s why I signed up for the course,’ Philander explains. ‘I wasn’t always that organised so sometimes running the projects concurrently was a bit of chaos, but the course gave me some good tools in discipline and management.’

The projects Philander refers to are those run through his Vernon Philander Foundation, established in late 2013 to give back to his community.

‘Where I come from many children can’t see that there are opportunities beyond what their brothers, sisters, uncles, and so on are involved in,’ he says. ‘The intention is to give these children a better outlook on life and the tools to cope with it – not everything has to be about gangsterism and drugs. The starting point is Ravensmead, where I grew up, and we work closely with an organisation called Second Chance. One of the guys involved in that project was caught up in drugs while the other has been a world champion dancer. They have shown that you can make something out of nothing, and the way they tell their stories really gets across to the children.’

The inspiration behind Philander’s foundation came through his interaction with Gill Taylor, education and training manager at the Sports Science Institute of South Africa. Taylor is also the national manager of the Macsteel Maestros, both of which the SACA Player Plus programme are partnered with.

‘She opened up my mind to the fact that you don’t have to be stuck in where you come from,’ Philander adds. ‘Sometimes we get wrapped up in our bubble thinking we’re stuck in the life we’re in, but we can all make a name for ourselves in our lives.’

One of Philander’s big goals is to expand the reach of his foundation, which is why he felt the need to upskill himself. Through discussions with his SACA PDM, Ruan Schlebusch, they identified the UCT Project Management Foundations course as the perfect one for him. However, his schedule with the national team posed challenges when it came to handing in assignments and writing exams.

‘The one moment that stands out was when we were playing against Sri Lanka [in July 2014],’ Philander remembers. ‘The internet connection was quite bad so I was struggling to get something in on time. I have to commend GetSmarter, because they were very understanding of my situation and it’s great that we can write exams anywhere in the world. If I had to do a course where I had to go to class, I would have struggled to fit it in.’

Philander is also thankful for SACA’s support during the 10-week course.

‘Ruan was brilliant at checking in that I was still enjoying the course and finding it helpful. The SACA Player Plus programme is excellent motivation for us players to take a little time away from cricket to help set ourselves up for the outside world.’

Buoyed by this experience, Philander plans to tackle another course in the near future.

‘I’m looking to do a course in property development, which is also an interest of mine through someone I know,’ he says. ‘By the time I’m finished with the cricket side of things I’ll be able to focus on growing that side too.’

Ordinarily Philander would currently be at the tail end of a cricket season, but instead he has spent the past four months recovering from an ankle injury sustained during a warm-up before the second Test against India last November. He admits it’s been frustrating, but it’s also freed up time to explore even more opportunities beyond the game.

‘I’ve become involved in a company called PDV Marketing that does artificial grass – it’s helped me broaden my avenues,’ he adds. ‘The business is growing quite rapidly and it’s helped to take my mind off cricket during a tough time when I haven’t been able to what I love. As can be imagined, it would be tough for anybody to not be able to work for four months.’

When not with physios doing rehab or spending time at his foundation, Philander has also been a regular at Parow Golf Club (where he plays off a 7 handicap) and spending time with his nearest and dearest.

‘I always find time for golf,’ says Philander animatedly. ‘It’s important to find time to do the things you enjoy – life is so busy that you can sometimes forget about yourself. So every now and again I clear a day or so to get on the course. It helps to clear my mind, as does spending time with my girlfriend. We try hard to enhance each other’s lives by pushing each other to be better. We really enjoy hiking and trail running together, and now that I’m mobile again it’s great to be able to do these things with her.’

Ultimately, Philander believes that if you align all the aspects in your life with the things you’re interested in, you’ll be all the better for it.

‘You have to learn to be smart about the choices you make in life. If you do so they will no doubt enhance you as a person. My motto is: Don’t waste time in your life.’

Player Plus: The SA Cricket Association's personal development, education and support programme which is about creating better people, better cricketers and a better future. For more click HERE

Read more on:    proteas  |  vernon philander  |  cricket


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