Former India captain and National Cricket Academy (NCA) chief Rahul Dravid said coaches are trying to resolve mental health issues of non contracted and U-19 players during the lockdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s something we tried in this lockdown,” Dravid said during a Rajasthan Royals webinar on mental health and wellbeing. “We identified players outside of the contract list and with the U-19 players. We have been given the opportunity to connect to professionalism.”
“As a former cricketer I truly believe that former cricket players, cricket coaches don’t have the expertise to deal with the issues that some of the youngsters have these days. The right thing for us is to direct them to professionals and take it forward.”
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Dravid’s comments come at a time when increasingly players have been speaking up about mental health have shared personal struggles with it. Dravid finds these conversations encouraging.
“It is a high pressure environment. In the past there was a certain stigma associated with admitting it but with a few players coming out definitely there has been some better conversation around it.”
One of India’s greatest cricketers, Dravid has been working with junior cricketers for sometime, first as a India U-19 and India A coach and now as the head of the NCA.
Dravid admitted to loving working on nurturing young talent, saying dealing with insecurities during his younger days was challenging for him and he can identify with young players easily.
“It’s quite unnerving for a lot of young players which is why I love working with the Under-19 boys or India A who I think go through the same amount of insecurities. I kind of identify with them, that is something I had experienced myself as a young boy,” Dravid said.
Dravid holds a graduate degree in commerce and was pursuing MBA when he was picked to play for India and had to go through a long phase in first-class cricket.
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“I think trying to get into the Indian team was one of the most challenging phases. I made my first class debut at the age of 17 or so… It took me about five years of first class cricket to play for India,” he said. “If I look back the most complicated time for me would be me before when I played for India when you had those risky decisions to take with doubts and insecurities around it. When you have the choice of going down with a career in something else and you commit to cricket and take that risky decision and go through it.”
“You had to sacrifice your education in some ways to take a punt, take a gamble on cricket. It kind of worked out. I never used that degree ever luckily,” he added.
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