Last week, the FBB Family were blessed with a visit from Nike heptathlete and motivational speaker, John Mcavoy. John came to visit our programmes as part of his commitment to support young people to achieve their potential and move beyond fearing failure. His charisma as a speaker and his achievements as an athlete would have been enough to get our participants excited, but he also has a hugely inspiring personal story of despair and redemption.
John grew up in South London and became involved in crime through his step-father while still in his early teens. By the time he was 21, John was serving a life sentence in Belmarsh High Security Unit for conspiracy to commit an armed robbery.
At that point, he realised he had taken all the wrong choices in life and that the only way out for him was through hard work. That was when he discovered the prison rowing machine. He started training and quickly broke the British record for rowing the marathon, then smashed the world record for distance rowed in 24 hours.
Today, John is an Iron Man competitor and Nike’s only sponsored heptathlete. His real passion, however, is in supporting young people to avoid making the mistakes that he made. His own story is a powerful reminder of what can be achieved through dedication, hard work, and a willingness to face failure and learn from it.
He told FBB participants from Harris Boys East Dulwich, Chestnut Grove Academy and the
Archibshop Lanfranc Academy that they were “blank canvasses and they had the choice what to paint with their lives”.
FBB Director, Jasper Kain, who shares John’s passion for sport as a transformational tool for change, said “We teach our students that they can achieve their goals if they are prepared to develop the right habits and learn from setbacks. Hearing this message from someone who is such a visible example of this was a fantastic opportunity for our participants.”
Football Beyond Borders is a registered UK charity which uses the power of football to tackle inequality and provide opportunities for young people to achieve their goals and make their voices heard.
"I have been extremely impressed with the high level of football coaching that FBB offer. The sessions are really well thought out for all abilities and really develop the mental and physical attributes required in football."
Thomas Bateman, Teacher
Archbishop Lanfranc Academy, Croydon
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