Fresh from the recent signing of a Memoranda of Understanding between The FA and Japan FA (JFA), two FA National Youth Council members had an experience of a lifetime.
Michael Ryan (Sussex FA) and Jodie Williams (Herefordshire FA) spent three days in Japan alongside FA staff, delivering on the United Nations International Young Leadership Camp in Sendai.
Each year, the UN bring together 30 young people aged between 18-25, with an equal gender split, who are working on Sport for Development and Peace projects across the developing world.
Youth leaders from Nepal, Pakistan, India, Indonesia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, South Korea, Vietnam and Japan spent two weeks undergoing training in different aspects of leadership.
The aim is to better prepare themselves to positively shape how sport can be played inclusively and flexibly in their own communities.
With The FA invited to deliver the football element of the camp, National Youth Council representatives Jodie and Michael co-created and co-delivered the training, alongside FA staff members Karl Lines and Donna McIvor.
To kick-off the closer ties between The FA and Japan FA, JFA colleagues were present to observe and support their English colleagues.
Through a series of leadership tasks, play-based activities and group discussions, the camp delegates were encouraged to reflect on their own personal leadership journey to date and craft their own set of unique personal strengths, whilst learning new ways to engage people and help them to enjoy their participation in football.
Plans are already in place to cascade these learnings across The FA’s own Youth Council network in England to benefit as many young people as possible, and ultimately to ensure the impact will be felt on grassroots participation across many of our country’s own diverse communities.
"Developing young people as future leaders is a mission very close to our own hearts and it’s a privilege to take part in such a thought-provoking and valuable exchange," said Karl Lines, The FA’s National Children and Young People Manager.
"As we strive to develop our own world class youth leadership programme for young people in England, we’re grateful for the opportunity to explore different approaches, strategies and best practices globally in Young Leadership Development with leading organisations such as the United Nations and Japan FA.
"It has been an invaluable learning opportunity for us all, for which we’re very grateful, and we look forward to continuing this sharing in future."
This is the fourth time that The FA have delivered leadership training as part of a strong growing relationship with the UN’s Office on Sport for Development and Peace.
This particular event in Japan was especially poignant as it coincided with the five-year anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami which struck the northern coast of Japan in March 2011. The city of Sendai in Miyagi prefecture, where the UN camp was held, was one of the areas that was badly affected.