Former rugby star Mark Potter made a visit to Pools’ training ground on Tuesday to deliver a Safer Gambling Education programme to the players.
Potter shared his own harrowing story of falling in to the clutches of excessive gambling during which he racked up so much debt he even considered taking his own life.
Tony Adams’ Sporting Chance Clinic offered him a way out and the help he needed to put his life back together and now he’s part of a new scheme aimed at ensuring others know about the pitfalls.
Potter is now a Business Development Manager for Epic Risk Management who have gone in to partnership with Sky Bet and the EFL in order to deliver education to all clubs in the top four divisions.
Our friends at Sky Bet arranged for Pools to be included in the drive to make sure that our players were also provided with the information to help make them aware of the dangers.
“As the principal sponsor of the EFL, Sky Bet wanted to provide players with a dedicated scheme to highlight the dangers of problematic gambling and how to identify potential harm in themselves or their team-mates,” explained Potter.
“We started on the last day in July up at Carlisle United and we’ll get round all the EFL clubs each season – as well as Hartlepool and Salford who have the links with Sky Bet – over the next five years.
“The hope is that the programme will evolve during that five years but the main idea is to ensure that anybody with a relationship with gambling who can identify with any of the issues we’re discussing will feel able to approach somebody.
“If they feel like they can talk to the PFA or reach out to us directly to get some advice then hopefully they won’t have to go through their whole careers struggling with something that they could speak about.
“Looking back on my career – and footballer Scott Davies speaks about this as well – if at any point we looked at our relationship with gambling during our career then maybe things could have turned out differently.
“Maybe we wouldn’t have had to go to Sporting Chance, maybe we wouldn’t have been suicidal, maybe we wouldn’t have finished with nothing to show for our careers.
“The idea is encourage players by giving them a snapshot of what is was like for us when we were playing and how it can be an issue – and that it’s better to speak about it before it’s too late.”
Sky Bet have invested £1m in the drive to educate players and so far sessions have attracted excellent feedback from clubs all over the country.