Northern Diamonds’ Phoebe Graham on how professional deals are revolutionising women’s cricket

Phoebe Graham blogs on the transformative impact that turning pro for Northern Diamonds has had on her cricket and life, and shares her insights into how such a transition can open up a whole new world for female athletes…

If someone read my palm last year and said: ‘You’ll leave London, say goodbye to your corporate career at Sky and the next time you interact with Sky, you’ll be writing a column as a professional cricketer’… I’d have thought they were crazy!

But here I am, in Costa del Yorkshire, God’s County, living the professional athlete’s dream!

Being selected as a Northern Diamond cricketer has surpassed all expectations. At this stage in my career, I thought playing cricket full time was off the table. Opportunities in women’s sport have always been limiting, but in the past decade there has been a lot of positive change. Women’s cricket is unrecognisable.

So many people still ask ‘why now?’. Well ‘my opportunity is now’, so here we go!

The biggest transition into professional athlete life has been accepting the new, allowing myself to learn and taking life day-by-day.

I’m so lucky to have legends like Jenny Gunn MBE and Lauren Winfield-Hill around me – you can’t go too far wrong when you’re picking the brains of England’s best.

Learning new habits and applying a new mindset has been so interesting. The human body is insane!

Prior to this winter my sprinting technique was interesting to say the least (the claw was real) but applying a bit of science to the BFG means I’m hitting much more acceptable speeds each week!

Jan v Feb 💨 #lovingit #athletelyf

I’ve really focussed my mindset to the ‘day to day’, ‘short term’ and playing what’s in front of me.

I’ve maybe taken that to the extreme. When the estate agent in Leeds asked about the short-let tenancy that myself and fellow cricketer Ami Campbell have taken on and ‘what happens after September’ I could only answer: ‘I don’t know yet; we’re just trying to keep the dream alive.’

Having your team-mates as ‘your colleagues’ is insane. Bessy Bam Bam [Bess Heath] is absolutely killing the 2k time trials, captain Hollie Armitage is smashing 200kg on the hip thrust leaderboard and it’s so good seeing some of the younger girls like Rachel Slater, Leah Dobson and Ella Freya Telford dedicate their time to the game and reap the rewards.

Life is so different, I’m training to full capacity, my appetite has quadrupled and I actually have the privilege to dedicate time to myself. That’s why this new cricket world is so exciting, it’s more sustainable for female athletes to reach their potential.

Another programme I’ve joined is the Women in Sport Unlocked (run by Women in Sport Trust).

I’m meeting so many insane athletes who want to create and generate change within women’s sport. I created my own platform TipnFlip 18 months ago as I’m passionate about changing perceptions and creating more opportunities for females in sports. It’s fascinating understanding how I can truly generate an impact.

Professional sport is a whole new world and I’m loving it. It still feels special calling Headingley my place of work and I’m excited for what the season entails for the Northern Diamonds.

Roll on the season!

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