The FA Leadership Academy 2019 took place in July, a four-day event at the National Football Centre for 60 young people designed to improve leadership skills so they can have an impact on football now and in the future.
One of our Youth Council Members, Dylan Ahmed, was nominated to attend this year's Academy by Birmingham County Football Association. We asked him to document his experience at St George's Park, which you can now read below.
Monday 22nd July 2019
Finally, the day had arrived. I woke up with excitement knowing that I was heading to the home of English football for the FA Leadership Academy 2019 with other Youth Leaders from around the country and world. After a short journey from Birmingham I was in awe when entering the St George’s Park drive as it was my first time seeing the pitches and complex, although my nerves started to kick in at this point.
Thankfully this feeling quickly disappeared as I was greeted by the National Youth Council team who instantly made me feel at ease by giving me, and the other Youth Leaders, a warm welcome. I then had the opportunity to meet my group and Mentor, Lauren, who was full of joy and had me laughing from the off.
After hearing from Greg Clarke and Sue Campbell, it was time for our first two workshops of the week. The first was to do with thinking about your ‘Personal Leadership Philosophy,’ which taught me how to identify my values – The second focused on ‘Understanding Your Best Self,’ where I learnt how to look after my mind and body to help me in everyday life. In the evening we all took part in an escape room activity where we had 30 minutes to complete four different challenges. This helped all the Youth Leaders come together as it was a really good team building exercise.
Tuesday 23rd July 2019
Wake up, gym, breakfast. I was raring to for the new day and jumped straight into the ‘Communication, Conversations and Connecting’ workshop where we learnt about different forms of communication and how some are suited to certain situations. During this workshop I was challenged with selling a pen to a colleague, which I found really difficult! The next workshop – ‘Building Relationships That Last’ – focused on the BRAVING acronym and how it links to trust.
Then it was time for Graduation, the thing I was most nervous about when entering FALA19 because we were tasked with presenting on how our Youth Council has changed its perception and developed strong Youth Adult Partnerships. Despite my nerves, I DID IT! I was really happy and felt so many positive emotions. I want to thank everyone who congratulated me at the time, you don’t realise how much it meant to me.
After participating in an evening activity, we had the opportunity to do a Q&A with each of the international Youth Leaders. I spoke to representatives from the Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, Ireland and Denmark, who all filled me with inspiration through their engaging stories and journeys in football.
Wednesday 24th July 2019
Our penultimate day saw us travel to Conkers, a place I had not been to since Year 1! This trip was led by Fieri, who briefed us on the day before splitting us into different groups: I was in Team Blue. We learnt about the different functions of leadership and how attitude and motivation is the key for anything to work – A thought process that helped me break a block of wood! The afternoon focused on putting what we were taught into practice by completing a series of challenges in our team within a certain amount of time. Each task was led by a different team member, which tested everything we had learnt during the week as we had to communicate effectively, listen, trust each other and show good leadership qualities.
In the evening we took part in a form of HIIT training called Drumba. It was an amazing surprise for everyone and a nice way to round off a memorable day.
Thursday 25th July 2019
The final day was already upon us. After taking part in the last reflection session with our Mentor Groups, I got ready for the first workshop of the day. This was about ‘Building Change,’ which taught me that not the best or strongest individuals survive - it is the ones who are best suited to change. This was one of the most important messages I took away from FALA19. The last workshop of the week reolved around ‘Insight.’ This taught me how data can be used correctly in football and how I can apply it to our Youth Council.
The week concluded with the closing ceremony, where some Youth Leaders spoke about their time at FALA19. All I could do during this ceremony was smile, especially at the thought of how far everyone had come in the space of four days.
It was emotional to say goodbye to the friends I had created long-lasting memories with. FALA19 had a huge impact on me as I finally felt a sense of belonging, so I would like to thank everyone who made it possible.
What it taught me most was that you can achieve your dream no matter who you are or where you come from!