On Friday I attended a conference at Band On The Wall in Manchester that was held to launch the new cultural strategy for the city. One of the speakers at this event was Jim Cassell who runs the Manchester City Football Academy. It was fascinating to hear him talk about the processes that they go through to identify the children with exceptional talent, then go on to take them to their full potential so that they finally end up (hopefully) as professional football players.
As someone who works a lot with young people I was really interested to get an insight into the methodologies that they use with the young people they work with. However, where it became a bit more challenging for me was that the whole objective of the programme was to skim off the most talented young people and work to push them to their full potential. Clearly this is a really important thing to do in all areas of work with young people, identifying the best young business people, artists, scientists… and supporting them to be the best that they can, but the fact is that these young people area tiny percentage of the whole population. Most young people may not be so immediately identified as exceptional in a specific area. For me this is where the real exciting challenge is – supporting these young people who may not initially be seen as the best to make exceptional achievements. Of course, the challenge of this is much greater than the challenge of supporting the next David Beckham or Nigel Kennedy…
The key to it all though, is the fact that, if all children are given the chance to do things that are exceptional when they are young and get a taste for what it feels like, they are much more likely to try and strive for it again and again as they grow up. I’m going to use the words of Brendan Dawes to sum this idea up (because he’s much better at expressing things than I am and was also a speaker at the conference);
“Average never changed anything…Ever…”
A great motivator for everything that any of us do.