Life after sport: COVID-19 provides timely reality check

If there's one thing the closure of sporting events around the world has highlighted, it's how vulnerable athletes' careers are.

Former All White Tim Brown knew the importance of setting up for life after football and now co-owns a shoe business valued at over $2 billion.

Brown's success story is no secret. 

The 39-year-old went from the Wellington Phoenix to the lofty heights of San Francisco, where shoe company All Birds has gone from strength to strength. 

"This actually was really about filling my day and having a distraction," Brown told Newshub. "Something to fill me up that wasn't just about whether we won or lost in the weekend."

That distraction evolved into a global giant and has helped Brown set up his life after sport and he's encouraging today's athletes to think the same - to make the most of the opportunities presented to them.

"Approach your off field opportunities not as an after thought," Brown added.

"If they approach it in the right way, they'll very quickly see it as an opportunity to think and see into the future about what they might do next."

It's advice former All Black Andy Ellis followed throughout his career.

Ellis has a satellite internet company that provides broadband at urban speeds to rural communities, as well as a Wagyu beef business. 

The latter formed from a chance conversation with Ellis' butcher in Japan, who couldn't understand why New Zealand didn't produce Wagyu beef.

"I started thinking about it and we got together and one thing led to another," Ellis told Newshub. "Four years later, here we are doing a high end, high quality Wagyu beef."

Both Ellis and Brown are encouraging today's athletes to adopt that same mentality. 

Their message is to use this time wisely and start planning now.

"It's a nice chance to read a few books, see if there's some sort of study you wanna do or any kind of business that interests you," said Ellis.

"Approach the off field opportunities in as focused and professional a way as you try and perform on the field," Brown added.

Because as COVID-19 has shown, sport is only ever temporary.

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