At the age of 21, Bukayo Saka in many senses is already a veteran. Not only is he influential for club and country, he is someone who has been ever present and ever consistent since breaking the scene.
You don’t have to look any further than his recent record breaking 82 consecutive Premier League starts for Arsenal and his PFA YPOTY award. Whilst he is living his dream in the moment, it hasn’t stopped him from ensuring others can achieve their dreams too.
Alongside Fiverr and Youth Beyond Borders, the starboy best known for creating G+As has created Ideatorr, an incubation program supporting young purpose-driven entrepreneurs in the UK to fulfil their ambitions and also make a positive impact in their communities. 12 participants between the ages of 18-25 will be equipped with the skills, network and backing to take their ideas to the next level.
It’s not the first time that Bukayo has given back to his community, but the next gen focus here represents Saka’s desire to aid those coming after him. He is well and truly a leader of the pack.
We caught up with the Arsenal and England forward to talk about influences, passion points and tips for young people who look up to him.
VERSUS: As ever, it’s only right to commend you for utilising your platform and influence. It would be great to know what leadership actually means to you on a personal level?
Bukayo Saka: Leadership is doing the right things when no one’s watching. Making the right choices every day, for yourself and for the people around you.
It’s essentially trying to affect everyone in a positive way.
On this programme with Fiverr, why is it targeted to young people and why is it important to back the younger generation for you?
Well they are the future, it’s important to know the future is in good hands. Whatever I can do to make a difference, even if it’s just a small one, that means a lot to me.
Why is it important for an organisation like Fiverr to support what you are trying to do?
Most things start with an idea. There are a lot of young people with different ideas and things that they want to do. Some of which are really nice, really creative and have a lot of potential. But they don’t know the next steps or how to turn an idea into a business or how to even take things to the next level.
I think what Fiverr is doing can actually help them. They have a platform where they offer different materials and resources to help. They have the chance to also gain £1500 in credits and use these to elevate their ideas which is nice.
If you look at the spaces you occupy both on and off the pitch, you are now in a place of real influence and authority. How do you find being in a position of authority both on and off the pitch?
I don’t really look at it that way. I know myself and it’s always about just being myself, knowing my values and going out and doing my passion.
Football is my main passion but off the pitch I’m doing different things. I don’t feel like I’m doing it to please anyone. I’m just doing it because it’s what I want to do and I think that’s the way I want to continue my life and see the world.
One thing I know about you is that your family means a lot to you, as does your background, heritage and faith. How big of a part do these things play in how you give back to the community?
I think it’s very big. They’ve had the biggest influence in my life. My family, my faith! The way my family raised me, the way my faith teaches me how to live my life.
I think they definitely have a massive influence on me and definitely push me and encourage me to help others where I can.
Does all of this ever feel like a big responsibility given the position you are in?
I understand what you are saying, but I don’t really feel that big responsibility. I think it’s about the way you look at it. We can look at it in that way and if you do, I’ll be more stressed about what I do or even be more hesitant.
I think I just try to do what I want to do with consideration of who I’m going to impact. As long as it is a positive thing, I don’t have any doubts about it. I just wanna do things and live my life you know.
Outside of football, who are some of the leaders that you find inspirational?
I take inspiration from everyone in the room. I look at everyone. Everyone has their own personality traits. Some good, some bad, but I find that I can take influence from everyone around me.
I have been reading a few books as well. That’s helped me in terms of learning in a different way and aiding my mentality.
One I’ve been reading recently is ‘Today Matters’. The theme is in the title. It’s about today. There are loads of little quotes from it that I’m trying to embed into my daily life. What you want to be tomorrow, starts from today.
Speaking of doing things today for tomorrow, what do you hope that your legacy away from playing football will be?
You know what! When I hear stuff like this, I don’t really think about it, you know. I think the biggest thing is I don’t need compliments or anything like that. I prefer to just do the work. I just wanna do what I think is right. If people join in, I think that is great and the best thing. I don’t want to tell people what to do.
But if I can do something, and someone else supports, and then more people join, we obviously are helping our community. I think that is what I would say
To wrap up, what is one piece of advice that you have received that has been influential to you and one piece of advice you would give to the younger generation?
I think one for both, is a quote I got from one of my books. It’s not what you see, it’s what you believe.
I really like that quote and piece of advice. It’s not always about what you see in front of you, you know your mind is more powerful than what you’re seeing.
So to give an example, if we are on the pitch and we are losing, I know that I will see the scoreboard and it will show that, but if I believe that we are going to win this game, that is more powerful than what I am currently seeing.
I think that is how everyone should think. Believe beyond what is in front of you.
Learn more about the Ideatorr programme by Bukayo Saka and Fiverr here