Last updated on February 23rd, 2022 at 02:25 PM
Footballers are the pinnacle of fitness and health, and Eniola Aluko is no exception. In this exclusive interview, courtesy of the Sustainability Speakers Agency, Sustain Health learned which qualities are needed to succeed in football and how the sport shaped Eniola into the person she is today.
Eniola Aluko is an inspiring public speaker, a frontrunner in football and a champion of inclusion, so do not miss this exciting article!
Which qualities are needed to succeed as a footballer?
“I think to succeed as a footballer, you need to be skillful, you need to be talented and gifted. You also need to know how much hard work goes into honing your craft.
“You need to know that you’re in a team. It’s not just about your skill, it’s also about how your skill fits in with the rest of the team.”
Several footballers have experienced racist abuse from audiences and even fans of the team, whose responsibility is it to prevent this?
“Well, it’s obviously the responsibility of the person doing the abusing. But to that extent, you will always have really idiotic people.
“The responsibility is for the clubs and the stadiums to make sure there are punishments in place when these people act in that way.
“I think it’s also the responsibility of the governing bodies to make sure there are consequences in place, so people know if they do behave in that way, it’s zero-tolerance. It cannot be a small fine, it must be substantial.”
How has a career in football-shaped you into the person you are today?
“Oh, football has given me everything!
Football has given me the ability to believe in myself, have self-confidence, travel the world, meet people that I would never, ever would have met. It’s given me discipline, determination, focus.
“When I was playing for the England team as a teenager, I couldn’t go out drinking and raving. And there’s nothing wrong with doing those things, but it really allowed me to focus my mind and not get side-tracked or get into bad crowds.
“It’s given me everything, really. It’s allowed me to get into rooms that I never would have got into. I met the Queen because of football!
“It’s really a question that I could go on and on and on about. I’m very grateful.”
If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?
“I get asked this a lot, actually.
“I always say that when I look back, I was so busy caring about what everyone else thought. I was so busy caring about, like, ‘what does my coach think?’, ‘what does my teacher think?’, ‘what does this think or that think?’
“I never really stopped to work on what I thought about myself. And when you get on later in life, your self-validation, your self-talk, your self-confidence, it all starts with you.
“You really do need to be able to say, ‘no, I’ve got this, I can do this without having to wait for the applause from other people’, because what happens if it doesn’t come? You still have do it anyway!
“I was quite late in building my own self-talk and self-confidence, and so if someone would say I wasn’t very good it would really get to me. It would take so long for me to believe that I could do it again.
So yes, that’s what I would tell my younger self.”
This exclusive interview with Eniola Aluko was conducted by Chris Tompkins.