A Talk From Former Professional Footballer Francis Benali | Epsom College
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A Talk From Former Professional Footballer Francis Benali

Francis Benali, ex-professional footballer who played nearly 400 games for Southampton Football Club, delivered a virtual presentation about two ultra-endurance challenges he has undertaken for charity.

He shared insight into his impressive 2014 challenge ‘Benali’s Big Run’, where he ran 1,000 miles visiting every Premier League stadium – covering up to 50 miles a day, every day, for three weeks.

He then undertook a second endurance challenge in 2016, running and cycling 1,400 miles to every Premier League and Championship football ground, running a marathon each morning, before cycling a minimum of 75 miles on a bike, and covering at least 100 miles every day for two weeks.

The events raised an impressive £670,000 for Cancer Research UK.

His inspiring and motivational talk covered his journey from playing football in the streets of Southampton, to playing against the best players in the world in the top flight of English football.

He also highlighted the mental and physical strength required to tackle his challenges, which some experts said were impossible, and how a positive outlook can help in all walks of life, be it a career, sport or exams.

He ended his presentation with some advice for Epsom’s Lower Sixth:

“Find your passion. Set big goals that challenge and sometimes scare you. At the same time aim for smaller goals along the journey that when achieved are celebrated and used as motivation towards the bigger goal.

“Set-backs and failure are not to be feared. They are part of the process and will make you stronger, wiser and more resilient. Be comfortable being uncomfortable. Step outside your comfort zone and if you find yourself in difficult times, pain or some kind of struggle, embrace it knowing that you can get through it and it will not last forever.

“Finally, live every day with passion and love. Make a difference to the world and be a positive influence not just to your life but to those that you come in contact with.”