Your own happiness is what matters most”

Ryan Babel / Professional football player / Ambassador


Ryan’s story

“By focusing on the things I excel at, I am able to prove myself to the world. Proving myself is something that I’ve been doing for as long as I can remember. I want to prove others wrong, meaning that I want to show them that I am better than they think. This is something that started in high school, where a lot of bullying took place. Unfortunately, it didn’t stop there. It also went on later in my football career, with coaches and critics who couldn’t acknowledge or value my qualities.”

I am always, either consciously or unconsciously, concerned about what others might think of me. I have been trying to let that go, because I’ve noticed that I sometimes take that stress with me when I go to sleep.”

“Just being on the pitch has always been the best distraction for me. In between those markings I simply forget about everything that is going on the outside. The pitch is where I can be myself. As soon as I walk back into the locker room, my problems completely take over. I never really felt like I could openly discuss my problems with others. This has three main reasons:
1) my problems are my problems, and of none others concern;
2) I often doubted whether I could trust people and
3) I felt like others weren’t able to help me anyway. Due to these factors, I’ve always solved my problems on my own. Perhaps I’ve underestimated how much of an impact this has had on my career. Because no matter how free you feel on the pitch as a football player, ultimately your own happiness is the most important thing”

“Perhaps I have underestimated how much of an impact the lack of support has had on my career.”

Ryan’s tips


“Perhaps I have underestimated how much of an impact the lack of support has had on my career.”


What would you advise the 16-year-old Ryan?

“Focus on what you are good at, instead of getting caught up in the things that are not going well. One’s opinion can always be changed when you prove them wrong and show them what you are actually good at.”