FALA19 group

CALLUM IRVING: My experience at FA Leadership Academy 2019

Callum Irving
This summer, I was privileged to represent Manchester FA and the Manchester FA Young Leaders Academy by attending the FA Leadership Academy.

This summer, I was privileged to represent Manchester FA and the Manchester FA Young Leaders Academy by attending the FA Leadership Academy 2019 (FALA). The Academy is a four-day residential held at St. George's Park that focuses on developing leadership skills and much more!

Every year, counties from across the country nominate young leaders to attend the academy, with the aim to return to their county’s Youth Council and make a positive impact with all they have learnt and experienced. This year’s FALA was the first to host 60 young leaders from 13 different countries and it was an incredible opportunity to network with so many people from around the country (and world!) and pick their brains about their roles at their respective Football Associations.

During the four day trip, we took part in 6 incredible workshops covering topics such as; developing a personal leadership philosophy, caring for yourself and planning for change. These workshops were lead by National Youth Council Members, including our very own Alex Claydon leading the ‘Gaining Insights’ workshop, as well as FA staff and the supporting mentors in attendance.

A highlight for me was on the Tuesday afternoon, when a graduation ceremony for the FALA 2018 cohort was held, as I listened to the stories and experiences of last year’s graduates. The ceremony showed how much can be achieved within a year when the right mind-set is applied and when you work hard to achieve your goals. It was very motivating!

On Wednesday, we left our base at SGP and attended the Fieri leadership programme at Conkers Adventure Park, a programme ran by ex-military personnel. The focus was on team building and problem solving and we were given the tough task of completing six challenges, each testing a different characteristic of our personality… in teams of people we had only known for 2 days!

The clear highlight of this day for me was being on the winning team for the challenges... Go team Ribena!

On the Wednesday evening, the National Youth Council, mentors and FA staff put together a DRUMBA session! This was a nice change of pace for the week and really brought us all together, before we embarked on our last day together.

This experience has been unforgettable and one of the best weeks of my life! The lessons I have learnt are invaluable in developing me as a leader of the future and as an individual. I would strongly encourage anybody who is offered this opportunity, to take it with both hands and grasp every opportunity that comes with FALA. This experience has truly changed me for the better!

Before I sign off, I have a list of thankyous to make… Firstly, a huge thank you must go to everyone at Manchester FA for believing in me and helping me grasp this opportunity. Thank you to Kirsty Dixon, my mentor whilst at FALA, for always bringing so much positivity every day and to the entire National Youth Council for providing this experience for us.  Special mention to Manchester FA’s Alex Claydon and new FA National Council Chair Chris Berrevoets… congratulations on the new role Chris!

From everyone at Manchester FA, we’d like to say a huge well done to Callum – we’re very proud of you! Callum will now take on the challenge of completing a learning and development programme over the next 12 months where he will be utilising the learning taken from Academy, to make an impact within Manchester. We look forward to supporting Callum on this journey and watching him progress throughout the season. 

If you have been inspired by Callum’s story, and are Interested in following in his footsteps, please click here to apply for our Young Leaders Academy 2019/20!