The People who are changing the way talent is found. In London meeting with author Rasmus Ankersen and Blake Wooster of the 21st Club aswell as Jordan Katz and Andy Flack of CREATE.IT – helping undiscovered talent! Making things happen!
Written on the evening of Monday, the 9th of September
All I could think about in these days before, was about my performance in front of various English league scouts. I’ve participated in 3-4 of these kind of matches back in 2010 (here’s one at a camp). But back then I was 16 with nothing to lose if things didn’t work out.
Today I’m 20. It’s a different situation. I’m getting older and increasingly there are more things I’m giving up in order to keep pursuing these football dreams and I feel it’s taking the toll on my mind and body.
I flew into Bristol at around 7pm on Sunday night. I don’t think I’ve been this nervous before a match. My anxiety levels were really high. The night before I tossed and turned. I couldn’t sleep properly. All I could think about was playing well in this match.
Lately “Chasing the Dream” has become more than just about football. It’s become a huge test of my will, my character and belief. I feel the success or failure of this goal will determine how I approach the rest of my life. It will prove whether “impossible” is possible. If successful, it will prove to YOU reading this that you can do anything with belief, hard work and persistence. If unsuccessful, then what a disappointment, right?
Well, my heart raced faster as I left onto the bus to the Forest Green Rovers stadium where I would be playing. I held my head in my hands and tried to breath normally, but all day I felt my heart beat at double the rate. I wanted to get this over with. I arrived and the pitch at the New Lawn stadium was perfect. You could tell the club was quite rich with it’s nice facilities and there’s no doubt the club are taking big strides into the Football league.
Eventually, I arrived at the stadium and met Jon. The guy at the football agency who invited me to come over. A team of us from all around England would be playing against the 2nd string conference side of FGR. Of course we had never played together, but many of the lads were all ages at 6th, 7th league sides or out of contract from pro clubs and were looking for a move higher. The coach who was taking us on (apparently an ex-Liverpool player) read out the team sheet. I was told on the phone by Jon last week that I would be playing 90 minutes. But I wasn’t number 7, I was number 17. That meant I was on the subs bench. Immediately I went over to Jon and told him that he didn’t keep his promise. He explained that there was a bit of chaos and that he was sorry. I was pissed off, but I wasn’t that surprised either having experienced things like that with agents before. Later on before warming up, he told me that he would make it up by paying for my flights to play in a game against Walsall.
So the game begun with me on the bench. I start realising that the players aren’t that amazing and that calms me down a bit. Half-time, and our team were down by 1 or 2. I was told I’d come on for the 2nd half as a right winger. Good. So the first 15-20 minutes went great. I created a chance for myself with good movement and I ran up and down the line putting on pressure on players and winning back balls. I also gave the final pass for our striker to get a few touches on and score. Everything was going very well. Then the worst came. I slowly started dying. I was out of energy. I got switched to the left wing and it went downhill from there. I couldn’t get involved in the game. I got taken off with 10 minutes to go for another player to get a run on. I didn’t kick myself for it though. It was unexpected, I thought my fitness was good, but maybe the stress in the previous days, trouble sleeping and no running (except gym workouts) since Thursday had an impact. The game ended 3-1. After, I asked Jon what he thought. The first thing he said was repeating what he said earlier about paying for my flights for the next game, wanting to see me there again and playing a full match. So that was positive.
One thing that has come out of this experience is being very self-aware now of my anxiety. I realise how it is effecting me mentally and I don’t want to have this nervous feeling in my body before games. It limits me from looking forward to it and having fun. I want to focused, but super relaxed. How do I overcome it?
Tomorrow is the meeting with Rasmus Ankerson and Jordan of create.it. Rasmus is a well connected, best selling author who writes about undiscovered talent in sport and has a passion with football. This is almost to good to be true. If Rasmus can’t help me out, who can?
Written on Wednesday, the 11th of September
I just had had two meetings with probably the most influential, intelligent people I’ve ever talked to about my career.
That was worth the trip to London alone. These were great people to talk to and it’s surreal that I had the experience to have one on one conversations with them about football and this whole kind of talent identification revolution that’s just getting started now and that they’re pioneering. That’s exciting. It was also the first time my dinner was paid for by someone other than my family. So why do I feel demoralised and frustrated. It was because there was nothing absolutely solid that came out from these meetings.
I could go into great depth and detail of what happened but in short, I talked with Blake, Jordan and Jordan’s advisor Andy for two hours at a nice London restaurant. Most of the talk was centered around me and explaining my story. The next morning we had another meeting, this time with Rasmus. I explained my story again to Rasmus. He gave me advice and the three most important things I remembered him saying was this:
- “find a professional coach who believes in you”
- “find a competitive advantage (i.e being 20% in better physical condition than the other players)”
- “focus on building that one strength (finishing), if you score goals, you keep playing”
There are some campaigns being talked about and some opportunities briefly mentioned to get me involved with this new create.it
& 21st club
partnership, but nothing specific or detailed. A “documentary” and “a campaign with Brentford FC” were some of the ideas I heard. I don’t know where I’m supposed to fit in with these “ideas”. The final words from Rasmus as I left the London hotel were “keep us updated” and “I’ll keep my eyes open”.
After talking to my brother about it, he basically said to just be patient and it might take a few months for things to sort themselves out. I guess only time will tell.
Hopefully there will be some concrete details that come out of this all.
Goal Journal Updates
Long term goals
Play professionally by October 2013
Short term goals
1. improve my confidence on:
- Receiving with back to ball
& become a more valuable player by..
- Looking for more ways I can get on the ball
– Getting better at 1-on-1’s, and find that I have a key advantage as I can shoot with both feet well and so the defender doesn’t know which direction I’ll go. Also learning not to stop or slow down as I’m approaching the defender.
– Getting on the ball more by positioning oneself on edge of box for 1 touch, shot.
– Making inside runs, you can get on the ball so much more as I found in training this week.
– Coach pointed out to me whilst playing, don’t be static, move & move. I think he was right and just maybe the answer to getting on the ball more.
– Receive ball on touchline, rather than in the middle.
4/8/13 – Confidence definitely improving in one on ones as I practice them more and more with the out of contract guys.
12/8 – going inside more as a winger to make those cross field runs, I do get more touches on the ball that way.
25/8 – go inside, but don’t crowd other peoples space.
1/9/ – trying to make more actions. Really trying to turn on that confidence.
15/9 – does better improvement with confidence come from playing with other more and taking risks, or doing individual training?
2. make a real habit of scanning alot
General comment: Improving, and I really want to shine more out of tight positions. Getting better, but so difficult to make this a habit. Still making sure I’m purposely scanning in personal trainings and club training drills.
15/9 – if I compare myself now to this time last year, I definitely go inside more and lose the ball less often with my back to goal.
3. Ongoing – Find out what makes great players, great. What separates the “great” from the “good”
This content usually gets posted on the Facebook page
4. Create more WOW moments! (moments
5. Build LinkedIn network
4/8/13 – Doing this actively and making good gains.
31/8 – need to build more actively.
accomplished: be stronger off the ball, quicker plays, don’t let attackers run inside, play long ball forward instead of risky passback, be more explosive, plan better, defend better(1/9/13)
Tuesday: Evening – Training with JOS & 50x first touch, dribble inside and finish in goal. Left/Right foot alternate
Wednesday: Afternoon: Workout C Evening – Training A & Game Analysis Chelsea vs Basel
Thursday: Evening – Training with JOS & 50x first touch, dribble inside and finish in goal. Left/Right foot alternate
Friday: Afternoon: Training C & Workout B
Saturday: Training A
Sunday: Game vs ?