Akwasi Addai, 25 – Ghana

“Life is like a game of football. You need people on side and goals to win.

 Who was it that said” football isn’t just a matter of life and death, it’s much more important than that?” That’s how I felt about football as a youngster, growing up in Ghana. I lived and breathed the beautiful game and took every opportunity to play. I’d kick a ball before, during and after school, with friends, my brother, Dad and even my little sister, if I could get her into goal. I joined a local team and toured with them. It was everything to me.

Now, of course, I’m older and have much more of a perspective on life. Though, in many ways, much of what I learnt from football still informs what I do and the ideas that I teach in my work as a motivational speaker. I learnt the importance of hard work, self-discipline and focus. And these are the skills I really promote in trying to inspire others.

When I moved to the UK, I found that there was a real problem with teenagers. So many of them feel totally de-motivated by their future prospects and stressed by the enormous pressure they’re under at school and through social media. Their parents generally, of course, love them, but sometimes unwittingly pile on the pressure. That’s why as part of the youth group I work with, I visit schools giving motivational talks, as well as suggesting invaluable coping mechanisms. Many teenagers in Ghana face similar issues and worse, so I frequently send money to youth organisations there: particularly one that uses football as a way to promote positivity. The power of the game never loses its draw for me.”

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