The arrival of COVID-19 and subsequent lockdown measures provided Eastern Cape-born Michael Smith (40) with some time for introspection and career planning. As a former professional cricketer and current cricket coach, he enrolled in the online CoachED Cricket programme which enabled him to improve his skills, setting him on the trajectory to secure the position of Assistant Coach for Islamabad United in the Pakistan Super League, which kicked off 20 February 2021.
“I wanted a way to upskill myself while based at home, so I did a lot of reading and research, eventually signing up for CoachED Cricket. I honestly think I’ve grown more in the past year than all my other years as a coach put together,” commented Smith, who completed the CoachED ELITE Accreditation Coaching Course. “It is quite difficult to articulate the incredible change that has occurred since embarking on this journey.”
Smith, who has been working as Director of Cricket at the prestigious Grey High School in Port Elizabeth, has an extensive career in cricket, having played for Eastern Province and the Warriors franchise. His role of mentoring upcoming players quickly transitioned into a coaching career, working with U19 players countrywide as a specialist batting coach.
The arrival of lockdown and career introspection led him to CoachED Cricket, an online programme powered by Gary Kirsten, which Smith described as “a game changer”: “CoachED gave me access to some of the top minds in the game – international coaches, players and support staff. I learnt so much about the soft skills and mental side of the game, which fascinates me. The course opened my mind, allowing me to seeing things from a different perspective.”
The 12-week online course, which is personally run and mentored by Kirsten, provided Smith with much-needed reassurance and support: “The assignments and examinations are applied to real situations and require you dive deep into your experience and research into all aspects of cricket and coaching. This pushed me out my comfort zone. I am grateful for that challenge and the support of the CoachED team throughout. Gary goes beyond the call of duty and is generous in his one-on-one time and guidance.”
Commenting on particular areas of improvement, Smith said he has more structure in his approach to players, adapting his “cricket language” with each player: “I have become more aware of myself, my body language, what I say and how I say it.”
Having successfully completed the CoachED ELITE Accreditation Coaching Course, Smith was rewarded with his latest opportunity – Assistant Coach for Islamabad United in the Pakistan Super League.
“Johan Botha is the head coach, who I have known for a long time, so joining his support staff will be a fantastic experience,” said a delighted Smith. “I look forward to helping the team in any way possible, and creating an environment for them to flourish. This opportunity would never ever have happened without the CoachED course. My coaching journey is just beginning!”