What Is The Importance Of A Good Support Network In Professional Football?

In life, we all need people to lean on for support and guidance. Within football, it is no different and the people we surround ourselves with can sometimes be the difference between a player fulfilling potential or going off tracks. So how important is our support network on the journey?

Everyone is present when it’s time to celebrate.

Why do we need support to lean on?

Any support system in life is important, but for young professionals aiming to go to the top in football, it’s vital that you surround yourself with the right people.

Who do you have to support you when you have just suffered a serious injury?

Who do you have keeping your feet on the ground when you’ve secured that big-money contract?

Who is pushing you to do better and be better, on and off the pitch?

Have you got friends who keep trying to tempt you into situations that aren’t going to benefit your career?

Along the journey, you will need people who you can rely upon through the good and the bad times, but who are also honest and have your best interests at heart. 

Everyone will be present and around you when you are flying and performing well, but who is still there when you go through a low period? Those still there when things are tough and ugly are normally the ones you need to keep close!

The journey back to fitness can be lonely at times but a good support network around you certainly helps. Photo by Tom Mulholland

The love of family and friends

Footballers are only human, we go through the same ups and downs that everyone in the world goes through. People seem to forget that we encounter day to day problems within football and outside of it. Every player is someone’s son/daughter/father/mother etc who require help and support occasionally. This is why the genuine love of the people around us can help us deal with the highs and lows of a football career, whilst growing through life. They are just as important at the start of the journey as they will be the whole way through your career, as I have experienced.

Family and friends are normally the ones we rely on when in trouble but also when we need to be kept in line. We trust them and they are who we go home to and spend the majority of our time with away from football. They are also the people who we tend to go to when we have positive news or problems that we want to share.

It is only in the dark that we discover who is really with us.

I’ve always had a great deal of support from my family and closest friends. I’ve always found them to be a much-welcomed distraction from the intense world of football and offer an element of normality, where I can switch off and be Alex Wynter the father and son, rather than Alex Wynter the footballer.

They have been there for me every step of my career so far and I know they always will be, wherever my journey takes me. Without them, I have no idea how I would have been able to get through the lowest times and also remained grounded during the highs, especially as a younger player.

From making my debut at 16 years old away at Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup to being stretchered off the pitch unconscious against Tottenham in the same competition many years later, they have always been there in support.

If you are a parent, have a family member, or a close friend within the football world and you are reading this, then be ready for a bumpy ride. It will be filled with highs and lows but remember that the player needs your support and what may seem hard for you to grasp and understand, is sometimes even harder for the player that is living the situation. So be honest, open and show that you care, whilst ensuring that you have the best interests of that player at heart. We may not ever ask for help but trust me, we need all the support and love we can get.

Spotting my family sitting in the stands after scoring my first professional goal. The same people who have been there through it all.

The realities for every footballer

When you are a young player coming through a football club, it’s not uncommon to discover people entering your life left, right and centre, claiming to be your friend and supporting you in whatever you wish. Temptations are everywhere for any young player entering the world of professional football and these new ‘friends’ often lead you straight to those temptations, sometimes without you even being aware of it happening.

  • Money increases
  • Popularity increases
  • Number of ‘friends’ increases

Having the wrong people around you can be detrimental to your career. Whether it’s your lifestyle choices, or getting sucked into the hype of being a professional footballer, the wrong type of people in your support network will only add fuel to the fire that is slowly burning away at your career.

However, if you have people who are not around you because of the perks you can bring to their lives, the chances are that you will avoid most of those pitfalls that are out there waiting for you. They will be able to steer you in the right direction when things aren’t quite going to plan, they will be your brains when you are only thinking with your heart and not seeing the bigger picture and they will be your biggest supporters through the good and the bad!

Having a strong support network as you start your journey is key to keeping you focused. Photo by Neil Everitt

If you are on the football journey remember to share the highs and lows with the people closest to you. Don’t think you can tackle everything by yourself, use those around you for support to make your job on the pitch easier. Football is a highly pressurised and ruthless industry that can sometimes make you feel as if the world is against you. With the right people around you, guiding and watching out for you, that pressure can be eased and the journey can seem a lot easier to navigate. However, remember to watch out for those that only come out when it’s time to celebrate!

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Instagram: @flyontheball_

Twitter: alexwynter_

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