If I had the chance to go back to when I was 16, just signing my scholarship forms, there would be many things that I would tell myself to do differently. This is what I would tell myself now, after being on the journey I have.
Congratulations on signing your scholar. I have written this letter for you as you start your journey in full-time football.
Firstly, you have to try and enjoy every moment. I know this will be difficult when things aren’t going to plan but you have to take it all in and savour those moments.
You will find yourself focusing on what is going to come next as soon as you have achieved something, but don’t forget to celebrate those highs. Those experiences need to be cherished and enjoyed in the moment because tomorrow they’ll just be a memory.
Don’t get carried away with these highs and think you have “made it” because it will take your eye off of the ball, but at the same time, they don’t always come around often so don’t let them pass.
I wish I had enjoyed my achievements in the moment.
Don’t sweat over the small stuff. Worrying over things like; people’s opinions of you or whether you are going to play well is a waste of your energy and time.
People are going to form opinions about you and you are going to have bad games/spells in your career. Overthinking the uncontrollable and allowing them to consume you will only hold you back and prevent you from playing to your best ability.
Try and play with a smile on your face and with no added pressure on your shoulders. There will be enough pressure placed on you by those around you; managers, teammates, fans and even family, so try and play freely.
As long as you give your best, then you could have done no more.
When things aren’t going to plan and you find yourself struggling, trust the process and accept that it’s all a part of YOUR journey.
All of the things you will struggle with are going to make you a stronger and a better player. The journey isn’t going to be all highs so when you find yourself out of the team or injured, have faith that it will all work out the way it’s meant to. Trust me, it always does!
Don’t be too proud to ask for help and advice from those around you. Coaches, players, and family members are all there to help you. You aren’t going to know how to approach everything that will happen on your journey but those around you might.
Seeking help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength and self-awareness. To improve you have to lean on others and use their knowledge.
Work hard and you’ll have no regrets! You’ve worked your socks off to get to this point and that can’t stop now.
Things are going to intensify and you’re going to have to be ready to push yourself harder than ever. You will have days when you don’t feel up to it but don’t forget how fortunate you are. You are 16, living your dream of playing football full-time.
If you want that professional contract and to have a career in the game you can’t afford to take your foot off the gas. You have no time to do things half-hearted because somewhere, there is a player who is willing to put in that extra work to be in your shoes. It’s a ruthless industry, so don’t let your work ethic be the reason you fall short.
These next two years as a scholar are going to be the most enjoyable for so many reasons. However, they will also be testing and relentless.
The rest of your career will follow that trend, with highs and lows constantly. Remember to take the rough with the smooth and embrace the journey you’re on.
Believe in yourself, never give up on yourself and most importantly, stay true to yourself. This is your journey.
Whatever happens, be proud of yourself. You’ve got this!
I wouldn’t change the journey I have been on since because it’s made me the player and person that I am today. However, I wish I had received this letter as a 16-year-old boy entering full-time football.
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