TWO 17-year-olds from Suffolk have just returned from the FA Leadership Academy.
Amy King (pictured above) from Sudbury and James Brooks, who lives in Ipswich, are both members of the Suffolk FA Youth Council sponsored by R Bugg Trading Ltd.
They both spent four days at the annual event at St George’s Park, the FA’s national football centre in Burton Upon Trent.
Amy, who is part of the AFC Sudbury Academy, is currently taking her Level 2 coaching award. She is also a member of the Suffolk FA Coaches Academy sponsored by Halliday Lighting and a member of the Suffolk Girls’ & Women’s League Development Committee.
She recalls below her experiences over a memorable four days...
My FA Leadership Academy journey began back in June, when I was delighted to be accepted onto the academy. This meant that I would be heading to St George’s Park for four days with 60 other young leaders.
A few weeks later, there I was, on Monday, July 22nd – up bright and early at 6am all ready and raring to go. I had no clue what the next four days would be like. Fast forward a three-and-a-half-hour journey, and I had arrived at the home of England Football, which was to be my home for the next 4 days.
The rest of Monday morning consisted of me being very nervous but excited, too. We met our mentors and our mentor groups which we reflected back to at various points during the week.
Our first workshops were about ‘Caring for Yourself’ and ‘Personal Leadership Philosophy’. These two workshops really empathised how important it is to look after yourself and the key values of leadership that are important to me.
We started to reflect on what we could improve on from the discussions we had in each workshop, even though there had been just two workshops, I wasn’t feeling nervous at all as all the people I met were so kind and welcoming.
Young Leaders who attended the FA Leadership Academy line up at St George' Park behind the European Championship trophy
Tuesday was another packed day but was very fun and enjoyable. The two workshops focused on ‘Connecting with others and communities.’ ‘Communication, conversation and connection’ highlighted how important communicating with one and another is and the many different forms there are of it. ‘Creating relationships that last’ covered the aspects of creating strong relationships with people and how to maintain them.
We all attended the Graduation Ceremony in the afternoon which consisted of last year’s Academy attendees graduating from the programme, as well as the presentation of the Joel Richards Inspire award. It was so inspiring seeing many graduating and hearing their leadership stories, including Suffolk FA’s Alex Shipp’s amazing speech!
Wednesday consisted of a day away from site at Conkers in the National Forest! In the morning we took part in three workshops. Workshop One was based on how to get actions and achieve results. This highlighted how important motivation and attitude was alongside support, skill and ability to get an outcome.
This was proven by our workshop leader as at the beginning of the session he asked how many of us would break a piece of wood with our hand, if he told us how to do it. 15% said they would. He continued to tell us more about the task and how motivation helps when people aren’t too sure.
He taught a fellow leader how to do it and they broke the wood. He asked the question again and nearly everyone put their hand up. As more people were breaking the wood, 100% said they would give it a go. This was achieved by the workshop leader talking to us. He didn’t do it himself in the session, he just advised, motivated and taught us how.
Workshop Two got us thinking about key values of an effective leader and follower. We discussed different types of followers and their effectiveness in a team.
Workshop Three highlighted the recipe for successful leadership. In the afternoon we took part in team building and leadership challenges in the woods. This meant we had to put all the things we’d learnt in the morning to the test. For each key point we successfully displayed, we earnt tokens which were then counted at the end and the team with the most tokens won.
After a successful afternoon, we headed back to St George’s Park where we later took part in Drumba! This incorporated dancing, exercise, music and drumming all into one. It was great fun!
Our final day arrived and it was another great day, but with an element of sadness that it was all coming to an end. We had one last meeting with our mentor groups, reflecting back on the whole week before completing our final two workshops.
‘Gaining insights’ displayed the importance of using data within football and ‘Preparing for change’ taught us how people deal with changes. After that, we attended the closing ceremony, where some of our fellow young leaders spoke about their FALA experience and our goodbyes and thanks were said.
After some more goodbyes and good lucks we went our separate ways, some back to counties up and down the country and others back to their home countries from all around the world.
And that was it, The FA Leadership Academy 2019. Although it felt like the end, it’s only just the beginning for us all!
When asking about FALA before I attended, I was told: “You’ll never be able to empathise how good FALA is in words. You’ve got to be a part of it to believe it.” And now, looking back, I couldn’t agree more!
What an amazing experience it was. In four days, I met so many determined, talented, driven and kind people. All of them had travelled different journeys but with one common goal, to make football the best it can be by being the best person we can be!
The shy, nervous, self-doubting person I was at the start has developed into someone I didn’t think I could be; confident, self-believing, excited and prepared for the future. I wouldn’t have been able to do it if it wasn’t for the support, advice, loads of laughs and inspiration from everyone!
One of my favourite parts of the week was being able to meet so many different young leaders from up and down the country, and all around the globe. It was amazing to learn about and share so many different ideas. Another brilliant part was learning so many new skills that I can bring back and use within Suffolk FA!