Inspiring young footballers with curiosity, culture and challenges

Taking part in the interactive workshop

Today, Ignition Coach Sam Squire led an engaging and inspiring workshop for the youth team scholars aged 16-18 at Cambridge United Football Club. Sam was invited to return to the Club where he once played himself, to support the self-development courses the scholars are taking. 

Drawing from his own experience of being in their shoes just four years ago, Sam focused on how to channel curiosity both on and off the football pitch, and the importance of having an open and safe culture for asking curious questions.

What makes your teammate unique?

As part of the interactive workshop, Sam provided each individual with a poster and encouraged the team to celebrate each other’s uniqueness by placing post-it notes on their peers’ sheets. This simple yet powerful exercise brought smiles to the participants’ faces and helped them connect more with each other.

Workshop observations

Sam gained insight into the group’s culture and observed some key elements that make for a high-performing team, such as humility, mindset, setting and achieving high targets and expectations, and having a laugh at the right times.

Sam emphasised the importance of creating a safe space to encourage positively challenging conversations. For elite teams, such as the Cambridge United Football Club youth team, this could involve opening up about personal issues that might impact performance on the pitch, or being more open to discussing reasons for not being selected for the team.

Having experienced his football career coming to an abrupt end, and becoming effectively NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) overnight, Sam highlighted the importance of being transparent around any changes in a team and being open about what is going to happen. 

Sam and the scholars of CUFC

Curious Jenga

Playing 'Curious Jenga' is a great ice-breaker

Cambridge United staff came away from the session with a better understanding of how scholars feel about one another and what they can continue to work on. They also learned how to create a safe and open culture for positively challenging conversations, which is crucial for the development of the scholars as both excellent players and good humans.

Sam said; “It felt surreal but awesome to go back to my roots today! Spending time with the scholars made me feel energised and grateful for the opportunity to share my story and facilitate theirs, especially for those who might find themselves NEET in the next three months.”

Sam’s workshop is part of the external speaker series that Cambridge United Football Club organizes to support the self-development courses that the scholars take. As an Ignition Coach for Inspire 2 Ignite CIC, Sam brings a unique perspective and insight into the challenges that young people face when pursuing a career in football. Through his talk, Sam aims to inspire young scholars to turn adversity into opportunity and to show them that anything is possible with the right mindset.

Sam highlighted the significance of speaking one’s truth and expressed his satisfaction towards the Cambridge United Football Club‘s continuing efforts to foster a secure environment that encourages such openness.

This helps in building trust among the scholars and staff, leading to a safe and transparent culture that facilitates positive conversations, even when they may be challenging.

Sam’s story is a testament to the power of resilience and determination, and his workshop is an inspiration for young people everywhere. We look forward to seeing the positive impact that his message will have on the young footballers at Cambridge United Football Club and beyond.

Sam's story (in his own words)


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