Australian recruitment agency Athlete2Business (A2B) has been creating pathways for athletes to succeed in a life after sport, with a vision of becoming the world leader in athlete transition services.
A2B director and founder, Alex Opacic, told Ministry of Sport his own experience as an athlete struggling to make the leap into the business world once his professional career was over, made him discover his new passion for helping athletes transition to a post-sport career.
After receiving a scholarship at the Australian Institute of Sport for basketball, where he played alongside Australian NBA players Patty Mills, Joe Ingles and Aaron Baynes, a year later, Opacic earned a full basketball scholarship at Furman University, a division 1 NCAA school in South Carolina.
“All my energy, passion and focus remained on basketball, which, upon graduation, led me to a professional contract in Europe playing across Greece, Cyprus, Macedonia and Croatia,” Opacic said.
“Two years into my pro career, it all came crashing down…
“I developed a serious knee issue, had two surgeries and was forces to sit out for over a year and a half, so I returned to Sydney and had no choice but to find a job.
“After my knee somewhat recovered, I was good enough for a semi-pro contract in Albury-Wodonga, and it was the start of the best thing that happened to me (career wise).
“To supplement my basketball contract I needed to get a full-time job as well; I was lucky enough to meet a media sales manager who saw the potential in me and offered me a job as a sales rep for one of the biggest media companies in APAC.
“After six months in the role she said, ‘you’re an elite athlete, I knew you had the mongrel, fire, resilience and work ethic in you to be a successful sales rep. I can tell you didn’t know that, but I was confident enough to get it out of you,’.”
After working a few different jobs within the sales industry and business development, Opacic said he found his true passion by understanding the struggle in his transition post-sport.
“I realised a lot of other athletes, once they’ve learned to apply the attributes they gained from sport to the business world, they’re typically quite high performers, and quite successful,” he said.
“On the other hand, I realised there’s a lot of other athletes who struggle with the transition like I did, and I wanted to help them transition better than I did, so that’s where the idea of Athlete2Business came from.
“I connect these ex-athletes who have learnt to transfer the skill-sets from sporting to the business world, I connect them to companies who can utilise their high performing habits.
“I also work one-on-one with athletes, running a variety of athlete career transition workshops to help athletes transition better than I did.
“There’s a variety of athletes I’ve placed in roles that has given them the chance to find another lifeline or something else to strive towards, to find success and fulfilment within.
“There’s a variety of sales, relationship management, and ambassador roles, those are the most common roles I place athletes in and the businesses that have hired these athletes have seen a tremendous upturn in their high performance culture, they’ve all seen a return in investment,” Opacic said.
When asked what advice he would give to athletes on the process of transitioning to a post-sport career, Opacic stressed the importance of preparing for the transition even while you are still living your athletic dreams.
“The biggest thing is to position yourself while you’re still an athlete, in today’s world, there’s online courses, university courses, public speaking courses,” Opacic said.
“The biggest advice I have for athletes transitioning is, your communication and emotional intelligence skills are the number one most sought after skills by employers,” he said.
To find out more information about Athlete2Business or get involved, click here.