SJFA represented at the Future Sports Leaders Conference

Nurturing leadership is part and parcel of the SJFA agenda and in addition to our focus on developing football skills, our spotlight is on promoting and fostering leadership.

This is mainly done internally by our coaches and managers on a weekly basis and in addition SJFA endeavours to facilitate opportunities off the football pitch allowing our young members to enhance their skill set in external environments.

In light of this, SJFA facilitate participation at The Future Sports Leaders Conference, taking place on Friday 10th February 2017 at the Hotel Football, Old Trafford, Manchester.

This was arranged by Youth Sport Trust and Sporting Equals, the national partner of Sport England and advisors to the Department of Culture Media and Sport. Their aim is to actively promote greater involvement in sport and physical activity by disadvantaged communities particularly the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) population.

The conference was set out to offer interactive workshops with a view to develop communication, decision-making and influencing skills. In addition, motivating and inspiring key notes were delivered by speakers from across the sporting landscape.

Out of 90 participants, SJFA managed to secure 8 places and was represented by the following U21 and U16 members:

• Yaseen Valjy
• MohamedJawad Gulamhusein
• Roshan Merali
• Ammar Merali
• Mustafa Ramji
• Maitham Gulamhussein
• Mahdi Merali
• Kumayl Gulamhusein

One of the key note speeches was delivered by Jason Gardener (MBE) and the Olympic Champion said before the Conference:

“I am thrilled to be joining the next generation of leaders in British sport at the Future Sport Leaders event. I believe that it is so important to invest time and energy into inspiring young people from all backgrounds to give them the chance to be the best that they can be. I hope that I can motivate and empower them to take a leading role in their schools and communities.”

Here below are extracts from the SJFA Participants’ reports:

Mustafa Ramji:
A pre-Fajr start on a Friday morning. “This better be worth it” – such were the thoughts among us as we departed at 5:30am, a tram, two trains and 4 hours away from Manchester.

On arrival, we overcame the drowsiness and immersed ourselves in the vibrant atmosphere at Hotel Football. Surrounded by Olympic and Paralympic athletes, we were in great company. After receiving a free t-shirt (always worth it) following registration, we began the day with an inspiration talk from GB Olympic Gold medal winner James Gardener, understanding his inspirational journey to the top of UK Athletics as a BAME(Black and Ethnic Minority) individual.

This was followed by a workshop with former Paralympian, QPR footballer and now racing driver Alistair Patrick-Heselton where we learned about and applied more effective communication techniques. This involved methods of engaging audiences and improving body language.

Keynote speeches from inspirational speaker Carl Konadu and Francesca Brown, who set up a charity supporting football for women, sandwiched another communication workshop with Alistair and a tasty – if unhealthy – lunch.

Throughout the day, we were encouraged to think about goals and targets we could set to provide a greater service to our community, utilising the skills we developed over the course of the day. This culminated in an Action Planning session where timelines and specific individual targets were set.
Overall, this was a day where we were inspired by determined, talented individuals and developed skills which will be of use both inside and outside SJFA over the coming years. Perhaps the only blemish of the day was the constant, unpleasant view of Old Trafford (note Mustafa is a Liverpool Supporter).

Kumayl Gulamhusein:
The Future Sports Leaders was a diverse event filled with interactive activities and motivational speeches that inspired us throughout the sessions. We started the day with an Olympic hero who was awarded an MBE- Jason Gardener who set us off with a sponge like attitude ready to learn in the day. We moved on in our groups where we had our first workshop about effective communication. The focus was your story and how you can connect with others through a simple personal anecdote and captivate the audience. We were fortunate to have Natasha, a football turned boxing Olympic legend who herself told us her story with the twists and turns and ups and downs and from there we were hooked. We had our next keynote address from the inspirational speaker Carl Konami who taught us everything is made twice, once in your mind and reality. Everything we let affect our minds affects our attitude and how we act. We progressed to the second workshop where we summarised how we communicate when meeting others with an action plan: preparation, connection, listening, reaching agreements and sharing understanding. We then, determined, moved to our last keynote address. Francesco Brown, the CEO of Goals for Girls let us know how she was motivated to move past the constant critics of her and establish an organisation which helps inspire hundred of girls in sport. We ended the day with our action planning to help use our newfound skills in the community. Personally I want help inspire others, especially the rest of my age group members through small acts to individuals and help them understand their opinion, like everyone’s, is worth being heard.

Yaseen Valjy:
It was an early wake for the boys, there were strict demands of being at Kumail Uncle’s house by 5:30am. These demands were fulfilled by all that were travelling by car. We left the house on time, promptly arriving at “Hotel Football” at the time of registration 9:45am. After a long drive we were happily met by a continental breakfast, croissants, pain au chocolat and Jus d’orange that was devoured by us all within minutes.

Upon completion of the registration process we went upstairs to the first part of what was going to be a long but very informative day. The first keynote speaker was Jason Gardener MBE, who spoke about the lack of diversity on the GB athletics board and how it is our duty to increase the diversity.

Following the speech, we went into workshops. The workshop was held by a GB boxer, Natasha Jonas. The basis of the workshop was to work on our communication in all aspects of life, not just on the football pitch.
The second keynote speaker was a:

Motivational speaker by the name of Carl, who spoke to us on the motivation how we should work hard and to be successful in life. Carl used his own life experiences to do this in a very impactful way.

After Carl’s speech we broke for a halal lunch and then continued with another workshop in the afternoon. This afternoon workshop was to help us to work on our ability to convey our ideas, aimed at helping us in our later life. This skill was also aimed at helping us to give back in life.

To round off the day there was a speech by the keynote speaker, Francesca Brown , she spoke about her journey to where she is right now and what she is doing which giving young girls the opportunity to play football. Her aim was to give us ideas on how to give back to our community at large.

Overall the day was very informative and for sure we can apply all the knowledge learnt over the day in all aspects of our lives. On behalf of all that went I would like to say a big thank you to those who made it possible.

Mahdi Merali:
The day took an early start with everyone meeting at Kumail uncles house at 5am. We then embarked on our 4 hour journey with a quick stop for Fajr. We arrived at the hotel at around 10am, had the breakfast provided and headed to the conference room.

Upon arrival, we were given tags where we can write our name for others to know and we were given a number and a colour. The number corresponded to the table we had to sit at, where we were all separated, in order to talk and meet new people.

The day started with a opening address from Jason Gardner MBE who is the current president of U.K. Athletics and gold medalist in 100m relay from Athens 2004.

We then got told to go to specific rooms which corresponded with the colour on our name tags. Every group has two athletes that lead our workshops. For example, my two athletes were; Natasha Jonas and Neil Danns.

The first workshop was one about effective communication. They taught us several different factors that affect the way you communicate and how a leader should communicate with his team.

Next, was a speech or presentation by Carl Konadu, a motivational speaker who talked about how we can do anything we want if we believe in it. His Moto was “everything is made twice, once in your mind and once in reality”. As long as you believe in it, you can make it in reality.

We then had an hour break, where lunch was served and jummah was prayed.

There was then another workshop lead by the same two athletes on the topic: influencing and decision making. The way to decision making is a five step plan; preparation, connection, listening, reached agreement and shared understanding.

The last speech was delivered by Francesa Brown, the CEO of Goals for Girls, a foundation that encourages more women to participate in sports. She took us through her journey and the obstacles she faced throughout.
Lastly, we had a short action plan session lead by Carl where we went through how we are going to use this course to impact our community at home. My personal goals are to spread the knowledge I have learnt with the community and using my new found skills to bring people into our community.

Overall, I thought the course was brilliant and helpful and was worth the 8 hours of driving.

Mohamedjawad Gulamhusein:
We arrived at the Hotel Football around 9:30, where we were given booklets, ids and even a sports leaders t-shirt that we were asked to wear. We spent about 45 minutes eating and relaxing with what they had kindly provided for us.

At exactly 10:30 we were asked to go upstairs where we sat down in random groups and were given an open address. We were welcomed to the event and were told a story by Jason Gardener who was a runner in the Olympics.

We then separated into workshops with 2 Olympic athletes who told us their stories about how they became who they are now. We also did quite a few exercises which helped us become more open about ourselves and talk to the others in our group. One particular exercise tested our reaction and if we were able to associate numbers with actions and how quickly we could react when the numbers where said.

After the workshop we went back into the main area and were given a very inspirational speech by Carl Konadu, who is the director and co-founder of 2-3 degrees. He talked to us about how society should have a larger variety of races and genders and how some races are more evident in things like companies and sports teams. He inspired us all to change that and tell others about what we know to make a difference.

We then had lunch where we prayed salaat and then ate an assortment of halal sandwiches and potatoes. They also set out a sofa where we were able to go and answer 2 questions about our community that would be recorded and put in a video with everyone else. At about 1:30 we resumed the event and started of with our second workshop where we did role play games of people attempting to sell various ideas about society to a businessman who could make a difference. What this did was show us how easy it was to convince someone to help out our community and give us the confidence to do so.

We then had our last talk by Francesca Brown who had made a difference by encouraging more girls to join football teams and giving them practices to make them better.

The last thing we did was fill in a booklet in which we decided on what we use this event for in later life and then we took contact names of anyone we felt necessary and left the event.

This event was really important and helped me a lot in the skills area, about how to be more open about things like this and how to make a difference in the community. However I felt the most important way it helped me was by giving me the confidence to do something and how inspired I was to make that difference by getting other people involved and coming back next year to see the differences made to our community.

Roshanali Merali:
The future sports leaders course was an event filled with motivational speeches by Olympic medal winners and people who had achieved something that they never thought was possible. The day started with Olympic gold medalist Jason Garner who was awarded with an MBE. We were then separated into groups where we had our first workshop about effective communication. The focus of the exercise was to connect with other people through a personal anecdote. We were fortunate to have Hannah, Olympic gold medalist in boxing who told us her story and about how she moved away from the gang life that her brothers bought her into. We had our next key note address from the inspirational speaker Carl Konami who left us with the message that everything was made twice, once in the mind and once in reality. Everything that influences our minds influence the way we act. After the speech we progressed to our second workshop which was about communicating with someone through a few different steps, preparation, connection, listening, reaching agreements and sharing understanding. After this we then moved on to our last keynote speaker of the day, Francesca Brown, CEO of the Goals for Girls foundation who let us know how she was motivated to move past the constant haters of her foundation that helped inspire over eight-hundred girls to take on a sport.