Football Beyond Borders welcomed Andros Townsend to their Brixton base to mark the beginning of our partnership with Unique Sports Management (USM), a full-service sports management agency representing over 150 elite players across the Premier League, Championship and major European leagues.
Whilst with us, Andros spent time with one of our fourth year groups in a session about resilience as well as conducting an interview on the pitch with two of our participants, who are Crystal Palace FC Season Ticket Holders. In the interview, Andros spoke about his playing career and the impact a programme like FBB could have had on his educational development. He stated that “I never really had a place like this where I could get my education away from school.” He also reflected on the role resilience had played on his early playing career, highlighting that he was “released by Spurs, then went on to make 95 appearances for Spurs”. As a man who has gone on to play in the Premier League for 8 years, and represent England at the highest level, his advice to our interviewers was to not let setbacks get them down and to always believe that you can find a solution.
In the classroom session, he sat in on a presentation about resilience with some of our fourth year participants and shared some of his experiences with his education. Like a lot of the young people we work with across London, Essex, and the North West of England, he struggled to engage in class, which at the time had significant implications on his playing career. “I was excluded at the age of 15, I got called up to the England U16’s, and because I was excluded, I was kicked off that team.” He had to work hard to prove his critics wrong, and find a way to pursue his football career, whilst completing his education. To the youth, his advice was to understand that the route to success is never straightforward, but having resilience is key to overcoming those barriers.
This partnership will see Premier League footballers visit our projects on a regular basis and share their experiences to guide our young people and develop the right mindset and habits. In doing so it will help us to use football to deliver on its potential to transform the lives of young people in our society. As one of the directors of USM, Marlon Fleischman says “At a time when young people need positive, relevant, role models we are delighted to team up with FBB as our exclusive charity partner. From day one we’ve been completely inspired by the dedication and passion shown by Jasper and Jack in their mission to build positive futures for over 1000 young people. The ability to support and guide young people who have become disengaged with school to improve their behaviour for learning, academic performance and school engagement is crucial to building brighter futures, especially when far too many young people are written off far too early by society. We are all really excited for the future of FBB and look forward to growing the amazing work and quite staggering results that FBB has achieved so far”
Watch the full video of Andros Townsend’s visit to the FBB HQ here and stay tuned for more player appearances soon!
You can find out more about our FBB programmes here.
If you’d like to become a monthly supporter of our work, you can do so here.