Investigating career development practices of contracted Free State Cheetah rugby players
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An inevitable certainty the professional rugby player has to face is the day he will stop playing rugby, due either to injury, contract termination or retirement. Very little research has been done on the career development of professional rugby players, but the available studies highlight the problem that they play professional rugby at the expense of pursuing a career, a trade or further education. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the level of career awareness of contracted Free State Cheetah rugby players in the development of their career after rugby, to analyse the post-rugby career planning of contracted Free State Cheetah players and to analyse career transition needs of contracted Free State Cheetah rugby players. This quantitative investigation used a self-administered questionnaire in the form of an adapted Australian Athletes Career Transition Inventory. A comprehensive sample was used and the questionnaires were distributed, in the presence of the researcher, to the entire target population of contracted Free State Cheetah rugby players. At the time of the study, 81 rugby players were present and included senior and junior contracted players, representative of Springbok, Super 15, Currie Cup, Vodacom Cup, u/21 and u/19 players. The key findings of the results can be summarised as follows: The majority of senior contracted players (60.6%) indicated that their highest level of education was Grade 12, while the majority of u/21 (81.5%) and u/19 (60%) contracted players indicated that they were busy with a degree. Most of the players (72.7% seniors, 74.1% u/21 and 85.7% u/19) have not completed other education or training. Similarly, the majority of the respondents (72.7% seniors, 77.8% u/21 and 100% u/19) indicated that they did not have their own business or owned shares in a company. Almost all the players (81.8% seniors, 92.6% u/21 and 95.2% u/19) indicated that they did not have another occupation besides rugby. Overall, the players demonstrated high levels of athletic identity, career awareness and post-rugby career planning, and in terms of career transition needs the players believed that obtaining actual work experience would be the most helpful programme. iv The findings with regard to the junior players’ level of education, high levels of career awareness and high levels of post-rugby career planning are very positive and might point to a shift from young uneducated individuals, as stated by Van Reenen (2006:IV), to educated, professional rugby players. However, even though the senior contracted Free State Cheetah rugby players reported high levels of career awareness in the development of their career after rugby, they still played professional rugby at the expense of pursuing a career, a trade or further education.
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