The Academy are delighted to announce the appointment of Rich Cox as the new Player Care Manager, continuing the ethos of promoting from within and creating a pathway for not just players but staff too.
The Player Care Manager role will see Cox ensuring there is a comprehensive provision of pastoral care as well as developing and managing a high quality player care and life skills provision across the academy, building on his previous role as Safeguarding Manager.
Working from the Under 9s all the way through to 21 within the first team, the role will provide players with a platform and a support network, with support in all four corners, social, psychological, and even the technical and tactical aspects of helping them deal with pressures and demands. Cox says:
“I will be developing the lifeskills programme, whether that’s internally or externally and dealing with letting players and parents know what the journey looks like whilst in the academy and whilst in the scholarship programme. Whether they get into the first team or whether they branch out into different career opportunities which I’ll be helping them go into and monitoring them once they’ve come out of our programme.
“It’s a lot of support of the player and knowing the player, knowing what it’s like to live in their shoes and get an in depth profile and whatever I can do and the club can do to help them in their journey, however it looks, but also welcoming them into the club and make sure they’re in a safe place and safe environment to look after them and help them with possible exit roots while developing the person as well as the player while they’re in the academy.
“I think it's a massively important programme, if you look at any club, if this programme was in place over the last few years, more players would have come through the system and would have gone on to be first team players.”
Cox originally joined the club as a community trust coach doing after school clubs and holiday camps before becoming the head coach and working on the futsal scholarship programme as well as developing the mentoring programme for players. This led to a dual role with the Academy as Cox became the Lead Foundation Phase Coach overseeing Under 9s to Under 12s before going full time at the Academy in 2017 as Lead Football Education Coach.
Time with the Transitional Phase followed with the Under 12s and 13s with Cox’s new role seeing him responsible for players from Under 9 at the beginning of their time with the Academy to first team players Under 21.
Cox, who holds a degree in Sports Science and Coaching from Hartpury, believes that his prior experience makes him well suited to the new role and is excited to see what can be achieved, saying:
“When I was with the community trust I designed and delivered the mentoring programme, mental and sexual wellbeing. It leads quite nicely to this player care role, a lot of the current safeguarding falls under the player care remit but there’s a lot more for me to get my teeth into in terms of developing the player care program.
“It’s an exciting new programme, a bit of a blank canvas for clubs because obviously it’s a brand new role within a lot of academies especially your Category 2s and Category 3s.”
“I think it’s really important because all player’s needs and support, however that looks, so for us to really help find that area of support that’s going to improve and develop them over the long term but also making them be a better person and a more rounded individual, understanding how to deal with adversity and setbacks and how to deal with your high moments and being a grounded person as well, accepting there will be highs and lows and it’s how you deal with both of those feelings and the pressures of them both.
“It’s massive and allowing them to flourish in a safe and positive environment is really big. I’ll be working with staff to ensure it's the best environment they can produce so they can produce their best football, to feel comfortable in our environment to show their personality. A lot will be based around their pathways and opportunities after the club, life does carry on after a release or after an exit from a football club so it's to ensure they are equipped to deal with the next chapter in their life whether that’s in football or away from football to give them care.
“I’m really excited, I think it's going to have an impact on developing the player as well as developing the person.”
Cox has also set his own personal targets to ensure the programme is as impactful and successful as possible with the greatest benefit to the players at the Academy:
“I want to make it a success, it’s obviously a brand new programme so it is going to take time to evolve and to develop. Even over the short term I would like to impact it the best I can in terms of leading it and to get everything I can out of it.
“Over a longer term model, I would like to build it, to make it bigger and better, but ultimately the purpose and the goal of it is to develop players and to develop people, if that’s to help them become first team players at the club or first team players at other clubs that’s fantastic and I hope the player care element would help in that journey.
“If it’s not in football, I hope the player care system provided them with tools to be able to be a success and to cope in those environments they’ve gone on to. A big part of it is developing the person and ensuring they can deal with adversity and setbacks but also be able to achieve success so I think that’s the fundamental purpose and the goal of the programme."