FA Youth Leadership Academy 2019-20

FA Youth Leadership Academy Class of 2019/20

Madeline Hurley tells us about her experience representing Hertfordshire FA as a future football leader

This summer The FA welcomed the FA Youth Leadership Academy class of 2019-20 to St George’s Park

Sixty young people began their year-long training with four days of workshops designed to improve their leadership skills so that both now and in the future they can make an impact on the organisation of football in this country.

The majority of the attendees were nominated by their County FAs, with the rest invited by UEFA. Madeline Hurley represented Hertfordshire FA and here she describes her experience in her own words:


Developing a Leadership Philosophy

I recently spent four days at St George’s Park as part of the FA Leadership Academy, a fantastic program focuses on developing young leaders to help them create a voice in football and improve their leadership skills. 

Before arriving I was quite anxious as I felt I was inexperienced as a leader and while I knew I would enjoy the experience I might be passive and feel out of place. However it was not like that at all. Everyone was encouraging and enthusiastic and throughout the week I became more involved and excited to be a part of something so special.

The first day’s focus was on knowing yourself, in which we had two workshops: ‘Understanding Your Best Self’ and ‘Personal Leadership Philosophy’.

The ‘Understanding Your Best Self’ workshop was so informative and motivating – the workshop was based around the SHED method (Sleep, Hydration, Exercise and Diet) and the importance and benefits of making sure you look after your “shed”.

I found this incredibly useful as such a simple analogy is really effective as these four elements help you improve with specific goals. I am now looking forward to reading the book as I think the theory is so useful in helping me care for myself in an effective and structured way.

We also looked at ‘The Four Burners of Leaders’ and how we manage our energy and about the difference between growth and fixed mindset. This really inspired me and ‘growth’ has actually ended up on my personal leadership philosophy, as this felt like such an important.

We briefly looked at the idea of Hygge, my new favourite word, defined as ‘acknowledging a feeling or moment, whether alone or with friends, at home or out, ordinary or extraordinary, as cosy, charming or special’ and I think it’s the perfect way to describe reflecting on the week.

The second workshop was on our Personal Leadership Philosophy – this is all about what represents you as a leader, what beliefs and qualities you feel help you be the best leader you can be. I loved this workshop, as I felt so inspired.

I struggled to put my thoughts into words until Roya (FA National Youth Council Vice Chair) described her incredible journey of how she created her own. I felt encouraged to start working on mine. I feel that it represents my philosophy as a leader and I’m always thinking about what I can add. I do not think I would have been able to create one if not for that workshop – it was so inspirational. 

During the first day Sue Campbell and Greg Clarke delivered amazing talks. Their experiences and words of advice were fascinating.


Connecting With Others

The second day was all about Connecting with Others and Communities. The first workshop was Communication, Conversation and Connection.

The workshop began with a powerful quote by Maya Angelou - ‘At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel’. This quote represents the importance of communication as it’s not just about what you say.

We talked about the influence of social media and how to connect with people. I found the skills and methods we learned in the workshop incredibly useful for leadership and just everyday life.

The workshop finished with another powerful quote by Linda Lambert - ‘One good conversation can shift the direction of change forever’. I think this represents the importance of the skills we gained in this workshop.

The second workshop was about building relationships that last and discussing the importance of trust and the elements involved in trust. We also talked about what happens when trust goes wrong and the importance of influence. 

In the afternoon, we had the graduation for the previous group of Young Leaders. It was amazing to hear people’s stories and successes and a great insight to the opportunities ahead, including with UEFA.


Learning to Build Change

On Wednesday, we travelled to Conkers, Derbyshire, for a day of leadership activities, delivered by Fieri. In the morning we had a workshop on Followership and the components required to achieve a goal.

I was proud after the final workshop on goal achievement, as I managed to break a piece of wood from sitting down, which had initially felt like an impossible ask! Afterwards we then had the opportunity to implement what we learned in group activities. I really enjoyed this and working as a team.

On the final day we had two workshops, ‘An Introduction to Insight’ and ‘Building Change’. The Insight workshop focused on the importance of research, insight, monitoring and evaluation to understand and anticipate the needs of the game.

The Building Change workshop discussed emotional intelligence, the ‘change’ curve and how to effectively create change. This was a great workshop to finish on, as it will support us in our individual challenges that we will go back to. We then had our final goodbyes with all the fantastic people we met.


A Future in Football

Thank you so much to Hertfordshire FA for giving me the opportunity to go to such an amazing programme. I have had the opportunity to speak to FA staff, County FA staff and other people from around the world with similar goals which has helped me really understand better my future education and job opportunities.

Thank you to everyone involved for all the hard work preparing and executing the programme. I am so grateful to have been able to go on such a fantastic experience and I can’t wait to graduate next year and look forward to work with staff Hertfordshire FA to help deliver some exciting projects.

Looking to the next phase of Madeline's developement, Beatrice Thirkettle, Hertfordshire FA Football Development Officer, said:

"We were delighted to have Madeline represent Hertfordshire FA at this year’s Youth Leadership Academy. The programme places an emphasis on personal development and it is clear to see that Madeline has made the most of this experience in starting her journey as a young leader.


Madeline is now supporting us to create a network of Club Youth Forums across the county and also the launch of Hertfordshire FA’s very own Youth Forum. This will give us the opportunity to engage with more young people and ensure their voice is heard in our work".

If anyone is interested in being involved as a young leader at their club or at Hertfordshire FA, please get in touch.