Written by Rebecca Lewin and Sam Buckett
So it was ‘Blue Monday’ this week, widely regarded as the most depressing day of the year. Rubbish, right?
Well this year, the date fell on Monday 21st January and there is something very special about the number 21.
According to science (yes, we checked) it takes 21 days to enact a behavioural change and form a habit, so rather than focusing on the bad stuff January has to offer we decided to flip ‘Blue Monday’ on its head and see what positive changes we could make as part of The Football Association’s latest Respect campaign We Only Do Positive.
In November 2018, we worked with England’s sweetheart Gareth Southgate to launch the We Only Do Positive handbook, calling upon parents and coaches to support the campaign and adapt his five positive coaching principles.
Fast forward two months to ‘Blue Monday’ and thanks to more FA research, we know that 90% of youth footballers perform better with positive encouragement. And every England footballer, whether they play for a senior team, underage side or a disability squad, was a young player once.
With this in mind, we brought together a number of players across the various squads to find out how the positivity of their families and coaches helped them to become the people and players they are today.
The final result has turned in to 21 Days of positivity which kicked off on ‘Blue Monday’ and will see The FA share 21 messages of thanks from England players to the positive role models in their younger lives.
The aim is to encourage those involved in youth football to commit to being positive in their approach and to share their stories on social media with #WeOnlyDoPositive.
You can watch the launch video, featuring Azeem Amir, Jesse Lingard, Ross Barkley and Toni Duggan here.
It’s not every day that you get to sit down and interview players from the England squads, athletes at the very top of their game, so this was obviously an exciting opportunity for the Pitch team.
Hearing their anecdotes and the impact of their families and coaches on their lives was inspiring, especially with regards to the Men’s Blind Squad, all of whom have overcome adversity to achieve their dreams.
Azeem Amir, told us about his mobility officer, Dave Potter, who introduced him to blind football and engrained a belief in him that he could achieve his dream of being a footballer if he persisted with a positive mind-set. Brandon Coleman credits Adam Bendall, the team’s assistance coach, with changing his outlook after he lost his sight. He told us “I credit both him and blind football for pretty much changing my life.”
Needless to say, the stories of all the players we spoke to left us in awe. Not just of them, but of the people who supported them on their journeys. What was clear was that without these positive influences, they would not be where they are today.
The campaign has started really well with media keen to discuss these incredible stories and it was great to see Azeem on TV as an ambassador for the campaign.
Keep your eyes peeled on The FA’s channels for more from 21 Days of Positivity over the next few weeks. And remember, keep it positive!