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Raise Your Game deemed a success

MR SPEAKER: Professional Footballers’ Association chairman Carlisle

TOTTENHAM LEGEND Garth Crooks encouraged aspiring individuals looking to break into the football industry to seek the direction they need from key figureheads within the game at Kick It Out’s recent Raise Your Game conference - the third annual mentoring and leadership event of its kind in London.

The conference forms part of a wider project run nationwide by the campaign. It gives people across the country the opportunity to discuss potential pathways into football with leading representatives working at professional clubs, governing bodies and associations.

Some 200 participants were in attendance over the course of the day, and they were encouraged to seek as much support and guidance as they could.

“We find ourselves gathered here today looking forward to helping those people who want to help themselves,” said the BBC pundit Crooks, during his opening address.

GOOD TO TALK: Crooks (left) in conversation with Johnson
(centre) and Muamba

“Apart from being a Kick It Out trustee, I have been where you are and it can be a very desperate and frightening experience - knowing where you want to go but needing a bit more advice and direction. The point of today is trying to find out where you can get that direction and help to progress.”

Troy Townsend, the campaign’s mentoring and leadership project manager, echoed these words and drew on his own experiences to highlight how essential hard work and commitment are in gaining a foothold in every aspect of the game.

Mentees were able to gain valuable advice from mentors such as former Notts County manager Keith Curle, Arsenal and England Women’s star Rachel Yankey, Millwall chief executive Andy Ambler, Premier League head of supporter relations Cathy Long, BBC Sport’s Caroline Barker and Juliette Ferrington, Queens Park Rangers assistant physio Sangi Patel, Elite Welfare Management founder Vincent Pericard and Football League match official Keith Hill.

Professional Footballers’ Association chairman Clarke Carlisle was also in attendance and gave an inspiring speech about his struggles in the game and how his work ethic got him to where he is today.

LEGEND: England veteran Yankey (left) gives advice

Former Bolton Wanderers midfielder Fabrice Muamba, who was a special guest at the conference, explained how he was dealing with life after football having been forced to retire from the professional game last year following a sudden cardiac arrest.

He said: “It had to happen at one point (retirement). It’s like driving a car, coming to the end of the road and having to change direction - I’m just so fortunate and thankful to still be here.”

Muamba was joined by Norwich City midfielder Bradley Johnson, Crystal Palace winger Yannick Bolasie and Bolton striker Marvin Sordell.

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