“Chase your goal. Do what you believe in, if they say that’s not good enough it’s just their opinion.” This was the powerful message that Raheem Sterling sent to FBB participants at Wembley on Friday night, not long after scoring a sensational hat-trick for England.
— FBB (@FBeyondBorders) March 23, 2019
It’s rare that professional footballers score international hat-tricks, and this was Sterling’s first for England. After a long and intense match followed by many post-match interviews, it would have been understandable if he’d just wanted to go home and rest. Yet as soon as he was done with his media duties, Sterling made his way up to the Nike lounge to meet the FBB participants.
It was a dream come true for Richarn, 14, and Jaden, 13, both FBB participants at The Bridge AP Academy in Fulham. Richairn was delighted, telling his FBB coaches “I am so grateful for what you guys have done!”, whilst Jaden said “It’s been amazing to meet Raheem Sterling, he is such an inspiration to me.” FBB coach Timi, who was originally an FBB participant himself five years ago, said “It was a great experience meeting such a humble character like Raheem. He’s a fantastic role model to our young people.”
FBB co-director Jasper Kain was delighted that FBB participants got to meet a player who has been highlighted as a role model in FBB’s learning methodology: “It was absolutely huge for Raheem Sterling to come and show his support for Football Beyond Borders. Just that day we had been doing a lesson with some of our participants about Raheem Sterling and the power of representation, speaking out for what you believe in and being principled. He is a real inspiration to our young people, who look up to a player who has worked tirelessly to become the player he has become today. He is a huge role model for our young people, someone they look up to as a leader on and off the pitch.”
Jasper was also delighted with how much time Raheem gave to speak to FBB: “It was amazing to hear him speak after the game to us about a range of topics. He spoke about the importance of self belief and also the talent of the next generation of players including Jadon Sancho and Callum Hudson-Odoi with such admiration, you could tell he is a really positive influence for them too. He wasn’t obliged to come and see us but decided to do so having been invited by Nike as part of their new 720 campaign. He sat down with us and we were struck by his inquisitive, thoughtful and caring manner. He couldn’t have been further from the negative image a lot of the media have portrayed him in the past.”
To round off the experience, Sterling decided unprompted to donate his signed match day shirt to us, which will take pride of place in our new youth centre. As Jasper added, “Here was a conscientiousness and caring leader who is finally getting the credit he deserves on and off the pitch.”
We’d like to extend a huge thanks to Nike for hosting us at Wembley and giving our participants the chance to meet Raheem in the first place. All in all it was a fantastic evening for FBB, with news of Raheem meeting FBB spreading quickly across the internet and bringing much needed visibility to our important work. The story was featured on Sky Sports, Sporf and the Sport Bible, amongst others.