Working in Pakistan is a great experience: Richard Stonier

October 22, 2016 | By

By Farhan Nisar

Cricket is all about trying new ideas, innovations and making brave decisions. Keeping that in mind, Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) has hired fitness trainer Richard Stonier from England, a first in domestic cricket.

Richard has strong experience in growing large fitness clubs and developing community fitness participation.

He worked with different athletes and local teams back in Stoke-on-Trent, England.

The 32-year-old Stonier is a fitness consultant from Shelton.

Richard is very outgoing, encouraging and friendly person who adopted Pakistani culture and conditions quickly. I had a chance to meet with him at LCCA Ground, Lahore, during the third round of Quaid-e-Azam Trophy.

He talked about working with SSGC players, his technique of training, living in Pakistan and his plans.

SCORELINE: Why did you decide to come to Pakistan when international teams are not coming here?

Richard Stonier: It’s all started about 12 months ago. I was playing a league cup final back in England and SSGC head coach Atiq-uz-Zaman came to watch me. He was very impressed by our preparation and warm up. He offered me a chance to work for Sui Gas. So I said “OK”. Then I went to Bolton to have a detailed meeting with him and finalize things.

SCORELINE: But what was the motive behind working in Pakistan?

RS: It was a good opportunity for me to work with professional cricketers in a different environment and different culture. For me it’s a very exciting opportunity. I have been in this profession for 10 years; have worked with many professional athletes, including cricketers but it’s the first time that I have got a chance to work with a bunch of 20-25 players with very different mindsets and different abilities.

SCORELINE: How much difference do you feel in physical fitness and training if you compare England with Pakistan?

RS: Huge difference! In Pakistan people are still learning. I came here to show them a different way of training. So far it has been very productive, players are eager to learn new things and are very respectful. Mostly they enjoy the training with me. Sometimes they don’t because it’s hard work but they understand what I am trying to do. It’s our third game of the season and you can see boys are well prepared and they are very strong both mentally and physically.

SCORELINE: Do you give them training plans for off-season?

RS: Yes! Training is a long-term thing. You have to do it every day. They are working hard with me during the season but there is no point that you train hard for three months and stop training in off-season. I want them to train hard in off-season because there will be no cricket, so they have extra time to train and make themselves fitter for next season.

SCORELINE: What are your tools?

RS: I show them videos, photographs and journals to make it easy. Some players struggle with posture and body movement but they get help from these things. I also make their videos with help of Asim Bhai (SSGC analyst) and teach them. It’s all about confidence, if you have confidence that you can do this, then you feel better and things become easier for you. I keep saying that 70 percent is mental approach and 30 percent physical. So if you are mentally strong and you want to do something, then you can do it.

SCORELINE: Shoaib Malik is considered one of the fittest players in Pakistan. What is your opinion about him?

RS: You are right. I would say he is very fit and mentally tough. After day one of this match, he spent a whole day in the field but in the evening he spent 30 minutes in gym. If you do small amounts of specific exercises to strength your body, it will help you perform better in the field on following day.

SCORELINE: They are professional players so you can’t force them to do certain things?

RS: I can, because they get paid for playing and I am employed by SSGC to do my job. If a player says, “I not doing this”, I have to talk with coaches and management to sort it out. From day one players have been enjoying working with me. Most of them have lost two to three kilograms in this short time. Their stamina, endurance and speed have improved and they are improving day by day. On day one I told them that it’s a 12-week process and at the end of it they will feel 50-60 percent improvement.  I will give them a complete training program for off-season, if they do it it will be fantastic, if don’t then it’s up to the management.

SCORELINE: Can joining SSGC be a first step to be part of Pakistan cricket team’s staff?

RS: Yes! I am open for openings. Right now I am working for SSGC and hopefully we will win trophy this season. I came to Pakistan to showcase my talent.

SCORELINE: Do you feel any language barrier while working in Pakistan?

RS: I try to communicate visually, try to speak slowly, write things down so they understand. Mostly I show them how to do the exercises. I try to lead by example and here we have a couple of people who speak very good English, so they communicate with other players. They have confidence in me and I have confidence in them.

SCORELINE: Do you like Pakistani food?

RS: In England usually I take protein supplements, salts and drinks but I love spicy food so Pakistani food is not a problem for me. I have tried all sorts of foods here, I like nice BBQs. I don’t know the names of Pakistani foods but I just look and eat. If a dish looks good I don’t mind to try it (laughs).

SCORELINE: How did you find Pakistan, its people?

RS: I love the hospitality here and people are very friendly. Everybody is polite and welcoming. Respect is (pause) five-star! In Peshawar people wanted photographs with me, saying hello and asking me questions. Same was in Karachi where security, police, hotel staff all shake hands with me and welcome me so it’s very nice. I am really enjoying this.

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