Former-Blue Joe Thompson was back at Brunton Park last week as he gave an excellent presentation to our under-18 group which focused on resilience, courage and motivation in what is often a tough business, particularly for youngsters who are trying to make their way in the game.
Thompson, now 31, spoke openly about his own battles against cancer, and about how 13 years in the football league gave him the opportunity to develop life skills beyond the game which have since seen him take on a number of roles, culminating last year in the receiving of the Sir Tom Finney award for contribution to football on and off the field.
Speaking about the event, academy boss Eric Kinder said: “It was good to see Joe again and I know the lads thoroughly enjoyed his presentation.
“A lot of the messages he shared about the need for resilience rung true. He also delivered a strong message on the need to find whatever it is that motivates you to do well as also being vital, because this can be a cut-throat industry which can cast you aside as quickly as it gives you an opportunity.
“The fact that Joe has been there and done it in his personal life as well as within football struck a chord with the lads, and I would recommend his presentation to every club.
“Carlisle fans will remember how Joe came here after his recovery from cancer, and then went on to do the same again at Rochdale.
"Hearing how people like him have beaten things like this can only ever be good for young men who sometimes feel that everything is stacked against them.
“We thank Joe for taking the time to come and talk to us, and we thank the LFE for helping to organise the event.”
Speaking about the event after the home victory over Stevenage at Brunton Park on Saturday, United boss Chris Beech said: "It’s been a good week for the club. We had Joe up here on Thursday, an ex-Carlisle player and he spent a lot of time at Rochdale and played football from the age of 14 or 15 at Manchester United.
"He was talking about mental resilience to all of our young players, our scholars. They’d just been knocked out of the FA Youth Cup so what a great day to have a speaker like that.
"Joe’s come back from cancer twice and played in between ... that's unbelievable. Things like that ground you and my personal circumstances keep me grounded.
"The things he spoke about do transfer to football because our players understand what the supporters want – hard work, honesty and to have a real good go.
"I think that's what you're seeing from our group at the moment."