13/07/2004 - 22:00

The good sports in business

13/07/2004 - 22:00


Upgrade your subscription to use this feature.

Unlike the full-time professionals of today's era, the sporting heroes many Western Australians grew up with had to juggle work and sport.

The good sports in business

Unlike the full-time professionals of today's era, the sporting heroes many Western Australians grew up with had to juggle work and sport. Mark Beyer and Julie-anne Sprague report on the business pursuits of some of the State’s sport heroes.


While the media or coaching beckon for many sports stars after their playing days are over, others have moved into completely new fields in pursuit of business success.

Footballers such as Peter Wilson and Brett Heady, Olympic hockey players Rechelle Hawkes and Jen Morris, and cricketers such as Graeme Wood and Craig Serjeant are all pursuing business careers in diverse fields.

Sporting success does not guarantee business success, as footballer Bruce Monteath (property development), cricketer Ian Brayshaw (sports stores) and basketballer Ricky Grace (indoor playgrounds) have learned the hard way from their business failures.

However, there are many others with success stories.

Graeme Wood started as a sales executive at Carlton and United Breweries (now Carlton and United Beverages) and now has a senior role as general manager multi-beverages.

“I started with CUB while I was playing cricket, in an account executive role, and I just moved up through the ranks,” said Mr Wood, who played 59 test matches.

“I was general manager for Western Australia for six years and on January 1 this year I accepted a national role.

“I co-ordinate all the States across beer, spirits, wine, cider and non-alcoholic products.”

His fellow opening batsman, Bruce Laird, formerly worked as a sales representative for the opposition – The Swan Brewery.

“We used to butt heads quite a bit,” Mr Wood remembers.

Mr Laird, who played 21 tests from 1979 to 1985, is now an insurance broker for Elders in Bunbury.

Dean Turner, a former West Coast Eagles player, is also in the beer business, recently taking on the job of CUB’s general manager, sales and marketing.

Mr Turner remembers that work and footy went hand in hand.

“I worked all through my career, I wish I had the opportunity these guys coming through have,” Mr Turner said.

He left the West Coast a year shy of its 1992 premiership, but while he missed out on football’s biggest prize, his off-field performance is still reaching its peak.

“Football gives you the right behaviours and the confidence at a young age,” Mr Turner said.

“Obviously you are part of a team so the team behaviour is there, but confidence is important and I think football gives you a good grounding on that side.”

Ben Allan was a star football player with Hawthorn before returning to Perth as inaugural captain of the Fremantle Dockers in 1995.

He currently combines part-time work as a football commentator with his ‘day job’ as a director at David Mullen Wine Agency.

“It was set up in 1991 and I came in a year ago. I have a 10 per cent share,” Mr Allan said.

“I look after clients so I am on the road a fair bit, but because I have an accounting background I do a lot of work on the figures.”

Sports such as football and cricket that pay their elite players a good income remain very much the exception in Australia.

Most elite sports people either scrape by on part-time work and scholarships or find a supportive employer.

Olympic rower Robert Scott falls in the latter category.

He was employed by Wesfarmers in the early 1990s while at the WA Institute of Sport.

“They were very good with allowing some flexibility,” Mr Scott said.

Wesfarmers organised a job in Melbourne when Mr Scott moved there to train for the men’s eight, which finished fifth in the 1992 Olympics.

Sport then took him to Canberra and Sydney, and he was able to secure employment through Ernst & Young’s Olympic job opportunities program.

Mr Scott won a silver medal in the 1996 Olympics in the men’s pair and retired from the sport on a high.

He has spent the past seven years with Deutsche Bank, but will be returning to Perth in September to rejoin his old employer, Wesfarmers.

West Coast Eagles marketing manager Deane Pieters spent nearly a decade as a full-time swimmer and represented Australia in the 1992 Olympics.

Since retiring, he has retained close sporting links.

“I worked at the WACA from 1996 to 1998 as the sponsorship manger and was headhunted by the Australian Cricket Board for a sales manager role,” Mr Pieters said.

“I moved to Melbourne and when I wanted to come back to Perth I approached the West Coast Eagles about a job. That was in 2000.”

Glenn Townsend and Andrew Taylor were Olympic water polo players, so they were never going to get rich from their sport.

Mr Townsend, who played in three Olympics from 1984 to 1992, said his employer Bunnings (now Sotico) was very supportive in the early days and even paid for him to play water polo at one stage.

Mr Taylor, who was recently promoted to manager western region with labour hire firm Integrated Engineering, said his career did not take off until he retired from international competition in 1990.


Subscription Options