Sakande, 27, claims the coveted personal development prize after blowing away the Awards’ judging panel with the scope of his recent activities away from the cricket pitch.
He was awarded the most successful individual in the Current Player category, and the outstanding candidate from the process, which gained a record number of 25 applicants.
The Leicestershire seamer receives a monetary prize of £3,000 to go towards his personal development.
The Futures Awards, which are part of the PCA’s Personal Development and Welfare Programme (PDWP), ask candidates to apply via an online form on the PCA website, before shortlisted candidates are invited to deliver a presentation followed by a question and answer session based around their personal development.
For the first time ever, the event was supported by PCA partner Lodders, with the Awards highlighting some of the best examples of personal development amongst the PCA membership, and Lodders helping the winners build towards the future with assistance from their prize.
Lodders Managing Partner, Paul Mourton and Corporate Partner, Graham Spalding sat on the judging panel alongside the PCA’s Lead Personal Development Managers Charlie Mulraine and Lynsey Williams.
The judging event took place at Lodders’ Cheltenham offices, where all six shortlisted candidates received a 30-minute professional consultation from a member of Lodders team.
Glamorgan’s Joe Cooke claimed the Newcomer prize, and Vishal Tripathi the Past Player award, with the category winners receiving £2,000 to further their off-field aspirations.
England’s Tammy Beaumont, Thunder’s Phoebe Graham, and former Worcestershire batter Ollie Westbury all shared a comprehensive IT package from PCA partner Lucidica.
Lodders’ Managing Partner, Paul Mourton, said: “As a firm, we’re very keen to give back and we want to be a part of the good stuff that the PCA is doing with the Futures Awards.
“All of the presentations were very impressive, and it was inspirational to see so many themes coming through and for everyone to be so well-prepared. Normally you would pigeonhole professional cricketers as being on the field, but people forget they are human beings who have interests outside of the game, which has shone through very brightly during the 2021 Futures Awards.”
PCA Futures Awards Overall winner 2021, Abi Sakande, said: “I’m very grateful to the PCA and Lodders for having set this up and invested in me, so thank you very much. I’m glad that they’ve recognised the value of what I’ve been doing and what I plan to do with the prize.
“I feel like the hard work has really paid off. I’ve grown and changed a huge amount as a person through all of these off-the-field activities. Some of that was forced by lockdown but I also wanted to push myself, and in the long run I’m in a much better position sitting here today to go in a confident direction once cricket ends. For that reason, it’s definitely paid off.
“I would 100% recommend anyone to apply for the Futures Awards. It took me a while to convince myself, but it’s a really simple process and a valuable experience regardless of who wins. There’s nothing to lose and you could win, which would be a huge bonus!”
Overall – Abi Sakande (Leicestershire)
Overall winner Sakande follows in the footsteps of Glamorgan’s Andrew Salter in having blown away the judging panel with his dedication to developing outside of cricket. Released by Sussex in October 2019, the 27-year-old used his time away from the game to work on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) projects with both the PCA and the Sussex Cricket Board, and he also began an MSc in Environmental Anthropology at the University of Kent before being signed by Leicestershire during the 2021 season. Sakande plans to use his prize money to fund fieldwork for his Masters degree which involves him traveling to west Africa.
Newcomer – Joe Cooke (Glamorgan)
Glamorgan man Cooke is a deserved winner of the Newcomer award, which is reserved for players who have been in the professional game for two years or less. Cooke has led the player voice on climate change, recently illustrated by his attendance at the historic COP26 conference in Glasgow where he spoke on multiple athlete panels. Cooke has worked on a number of initiatives both through his role as sustainability champion at Glamorgan and in association with campaign group Friends of the Earth Cymru. The 24-year-old is hoping to use his Futures Award prize to begin setting up his own environmental consultancy business.
PCA Futures Awards Newcomer winner 2021, Joe Cooke, said: “It feels absolutely amazing to win. I never thought I would – I just applied to see what would happen, so it’s just incredible. It’s another reward for all the hard work I’ve put in, so thank you so much to both the PCA and Lodders for believing in me.”
Past Player – Vishal Tripathi
Tripathi has been on a rollercoaster journey to becoming a fully qualified doctor since retiring from the game in 2012, and he has now been recognised for his unwavering commitment in winning the Past Player category. The 33-year-old hopes to use his prize to further hone his skills as a doctor by undertaking postgraduate exams and training courses, and he also wants to inspire more professional cricketers to consider medicine after leaving the game.
PCA Futures Awards Past Player winner 2021, Vishal Tripathi, said: “Genuinely it was not my intention to win this award, my intention was to talk about my experiences, development and the PCA’s role in that. To be winning the Past Player category is the cherry on top of the cake, I am humbled that the PCA are rewarding me for something I started 11 years ago.
“I will be using the money to fund the next step in my career and for me that is surgery. I want to specialise in trauma and orthopaedics and that means extra courses, exams and those things come at a price.
“Lodders are now having a massive influence on my future so for them to help me progress my career is an amazing feeling.
Lynsey Williams, PCA Lead Personal Development Manager, added: “The standard of the candidates at the 2021 PCA Futures Awards has been amazing – we’ve been blown away. Every interview has been inspiring, humbling and it’s amazing what our members have achieved across so many areas during the last 18 months, and I want to congratulate all of them.
“Bringing Lodders on board has brought another level to the Futures Awards, not only via the monetary incentive but also through the skills that they can offer our members. It’s now a much richer experience that our members are getting.”
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