This afternoon a lot of us will be off our work game, distracted by the World Cup. There are already loads of great books and blogs out there about what we can learn in business from sport. But perhaps the most profound lesson this World Cup can teach is beautifully illustrated by the story of a 15-year-old, football-loving boy from Cornwall called Morgan Coxhead.
You see Morgan doesn’t just want to watch the World Cup – he wants to play in it. I know what you’re thinking he’s just the same as thousands of other kids in the world, right? Wrong. Here’s the thing – Morgan isn’t like all those other kids.
The differences started to make themselves known from an early age, when Morgan was diagnosed with a genetic disease called Cystic Fibrosis. It’s a life-shortening disease, with no cure, that compromises his lungs and frequently sees him battling for breath. But that doesn’t quash his determination to become the first professional footballer with Cystic Fibrosis. And this isn’t some pipedream – Morgan is making it happen.
He must train twice as hard as his fellow players to maintain his fitness but Morgan made the County team and recently celebrated winning two leagues (Kernow and East Cornwall)!
Three months ago he met his hero, goalie Joe Hart, and spent time with the England squad at St George’s Park, including Football Manager, Gareth Southgate (pictured above with Morgan). Whilst there, he found out about a prestigious summer training camp at Manchester City.
“I really wanted to go,” Morgan told me, “but it was £1,500. I’m 15. I didn’t have £1,500 and neither did mum and dad. They told me if I could earn the money I could go.”
Undeterred by the challenge, and with an entrepreneurial spirit most businesses would kill for, he developed ‘Pasties for Pooches’. It sees him baking and selling pasty-shaped dog treats.
Where did that idea come from, I asked Morgan? “In Cornwall people love two things – their pasties and their dogs. I just thought they’d love the idea of giving their dogs treats that look like pasties.”
It seems he was right. People not only loved his pasties – they loved his inspiring story. Interviewed live on BBC radio, filmed for TV and making the national press, you won’t be surprised to learn that Morgan raised the £1,500 he needed and is off to football summer camp in August.
And, given all that, do you know what Morgan is doing now? County football season is done but Morgan’s doubling down on his fitness training to ensure he keeps himself well for August’s football camp. He’s still baking his ‘Pasties for Pooches’ to raise funds for his ongoing personal training but also to help others with Cystic Fibrosis go after their dreams by donating some of the proceeds to a local charity, ‘Just Breathe Cornwall’. And he’s currently in serious conversations with Plymouth Argyle about their 12-week training programme.
So, as you enjoy the World Cup, please think about Morgan’s footballing story and the profound lesson it teaches: That no matter what your dreams, your age or your starting point – nothing can stop your dreams coming true if you have the determination and perseverance to pursue them.
I’m so proud to be able to share this story with you because Morgan is my nephew. If you’ve enjoyed his story, please do leave a comment and I’ll be sure to share it with him so he can begin to see just how inspirational he is.
Alex is a storyteller. She’s particularly drawn to telling purposeful stories and giving voice to those who can’t, or find it difficult to, share their own. Employed by internationally-loved household brands to craft their words for two decades, she left in March 2017 to establish not A Duff word , which helps businesses, brands and boards to wordsmith words that work, master their messages to matter and sculpt standout stories. Her blog ‘early words’ is published Thursday mornings at 07:00.