Cape Town - A new dawn beckons for Robin Peterson, who gives unique insight into how having an education to fall back on actually makes you a better cricketer.
A white Audi is parked in the driveway of Robin Peterson’s immaculate home in a quiet street in Cape Town’s southern suburbs. The house has been renovated, sliding doors open from a modern lounge onto a built-in braai and pool.
Robbie P has come a long way from the dusty streets of Gelvandale in Port Elizabeth. But in some respects he remains firmly rooted to the values of his past.
“Things have changed in the neighbourhood I grew up in. Kids have got a lot more distractions. In my day, it was quite simple. You played cricket in summer. And we were exposed to quite a lot of sports. Hockey. Football. When Wimbledon was on TV kids would be playing tennis in the streets. It was a great childhood.”
Robin remembers playing street cricket against Alviro Petersen, Ashwell Prince, Garnett Kruger, Shafiek Abrahams and even Russell Domingo – all guys who grew up in his neighbourhood. He was even coached for a while by Allister Coetzee, who actually played cricket for Eastern Province in addition to his rugby career.
Robin’s career has had more ups than downs. As an all-rounder, he could always contribute with the bat as well as the ball. And there’s a trademark intensity to his on-field presence that he laughs off and puts down to meticulousness positioning.
But a new era dawns. Robin’s time at the Cape Cobras has come to an end. He got married a year ago, and his wife is five months pregnant. Next season he will play for the Knights in Bloemfontein, and take up a contract for the Caribbean Premier League, where he enjoys playing. There’s a particular enjoyment for the game in the West Indies, he will tell you.
“It’s time to move on,” he says, “and I think the timing is working out nicely at the moment. When you get married you want to spend a bit more time with your family. I’m not one to look back and think I wish I was still there. I’m just seeing it as a new start, an opportunity to do something else with my life now.”
Unless you play international cricket for an extended period, or are fortunate enough to score an IPL contract it’s not feasible to rely solely on cricket to fund a middle-class lifestyle. These days, says Robin, after you’ve finished with the morning cricket practice, the afternoon needs to see you “putting some work in on other department of your life.”
Robin believes that young cricketers should not wait until later to start studying. “Find something that you’re passionate about and start studying immediately,” he says. “Don’t just study for the sake of studying. But don’t wait too long either.”
Some cricketers believe that an organic career will evolve from their cricketing career, but “at the end of the day there are only so many coaching positions available, and so many academies that can open. So find something else that interests you and pursue that.”
“The biggest thing with cricket,” says Robin, “is that we played from when we were very young. We didn’t need to think about job satisfaction. It was always there, from the outset. But now all of a sudden, at such a late stage in life, you need to find something else that gives you as much enjoyment.”
To this end, Robin has signed up to do a business course through Milpark Business School. “I’ve always wanted to be involved with sports from a business perspective. And you need to empower yourself in that respect. I believe that sportsmen can bring a different angle to the business sphere. We understand pressure. We understand working in a team environment, and having to be innovative to stay ahead of the game. So there’s lots that we can bring to the party.”
“Guys that study at university gain the academic or theoretical knowledge, but we come with the practical life skills. And if we combine that with a qualification, I believe that puts us in a better space. We could be able to walk into a sporting office anywhere in the world. Who knows?”
Robin doesn’t have any concrete plans yet but is confident that if he combines his qualification with the opportunities to network that an international cricketing stint will give him, his career will grow organically from the field to the boardroom.
He has dabbled in property over the past few years, and has spoken to Ashwell Prince about the possibility of doing some larger scale development initiatives. At the same time, he gives talks at Citadel Wealth Management, giving unique sports-infused insights into business topics like Risk Management and Teamwork.
“I find it interesting going into the corporate spaces,” says Robin. “It’s obviously not something we do as cricketers. It’s quite different, a lot more formal and serious, but I guess that’s where you can add value by coming from such a different perspective. Even if it’s just to lighten the mood a little bit,” he laughs.
The role of SACA
“SACA has always played an important role. Now that I’m a bit older and gone through the system, I realise that education is vital. Educated guys know they have something to fall back on and are thus under less pressure to perform. And if you’re not as pressured to perform, you’re going to be relaxed. And if you’re relaxed, you’re probably going to perform a lot better.”
“When you get to this age, you have to take it one season at a time. It’s not about the money so much, it’s about adding value. Once you feel that you’re not really there in your heart, and you stop pushing yourself physically, then it’s going to become difficult, not only for you but also your family. I’ve never been one to play cricket just for the cash.”
We have a feeling that Robbie P will add value wherever he goes next.
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