- Written by Katie Scott (Photo: Brace Sports Media)
Tobi Sho-Silva is a professional footballer at Carlisle United. Tobi came through the academy at Charlton Athletic and did his apprenticeship there whilst studying Business Management and Maths A-Levels alongside BTEC sport.
While on loan at non-league club Welling United, he studied a Business Management degree but snapped his achilles in his first year so was out for seven months. Throughout his career, Tobi has recognised the importance of having a focus outside of football and has recently studied a counselling course so that he can use his experiences to help mentor younger players.
“Life can throw things at you, which you sometimes don’t even deserve, but all you can do is dust yourself off, stand up and say ‘how do we move forward from here’. The biggest thing for me is sometimes you want to shy away from the reality of what’s going on but when you’re injured, you’re injured and if it takes seven months it takes seven months.
“You can’t really cheat that, you’ve got to put in the work, day in day out and you’ve got to embrace your reality. From there, you’ve also got to clarify what are the next steps to get to where you want to be. Every day I say to myself ‘I find myself where I am but where do I want to be and how do I make a plan from here to what I want to achieve.’
“I think that everyone has to redefine success [throughout their sporting career], because success for some people is winning the Champions League or the World Cup or Ballon d’Or, but for many footballers they can still have a successful career without reaching that height.
“So, for me success is maximising my potential and getting to the best level I can achieve and play at, whether that’s League One, Championship or Champions League, really churning out everything in me to progress in my career.
“That’s on the pitch, but off the pitch I just like that I have different experiences to many players, whether it be injuries, being released, doing a degree or doing education alongside my football. I want to share that, to encourage boys to maximise their potential, not just on the pitch but off the pitch. To have player care as well, that’s really big in my heart, in terms of the counselling route.
You can be there for the footballer but are you there for the player? Does the player and person have support not just the footballer?
“For me, my heart would just be in some kind of mentoring role or counselling role, being a listening ear and to give advice and helping people to enjoy their football again. I think the reason why we all started is because we loved it but sometimes the game can give you setbacks, it can be a bit rotten and that can affect your love and joy in football."
Talking about his time outside of sport, including mentoring, a counselling course and his faith, Tobi said, “I have a few fingers in different pies but ultimately, I want people to maximise their potential and if I can help in any way, shape or form that’s where my heart is."
Tobi has some sound advice for younger athletes. “Take on board the learning mindset, as every day is a learning day and you can learn from all your experiences and not view things as this is good or this is bad but what have I learnt from it.
“I think go after what you want, as sometimes you can fear failure but there’s no need to fear it you can just step out and really go after the things that you want and learn. Someone said to me you either win or you learn you never fail, so really just going out and going after your dreams and what you want.
Also, understand that your identity, your purpose is more than just football, it’s not just wrapped up in your sport, you are created for more, you can do more. You’re worth more than your performances on the pitch and you’re worth more than what other people think of you.
“Be free from all these things and see football as what it is, it’s a game, it’s a profession, it’s a passion, but it’s not you, you’re separate from the game of football.”