By Rob Cornell
Most young footballers use the summer to let their bodies recover or even just relax with the latest gadgets, but young defender Jack Currie recently dedicated his break to helping others less fortunate.
The AFC Wimbledon Academy teenager admirably gave up his time and even his phone on a life-changing trip to Africa and was rewarded with an unforgettable experience.
Jack, along with his under-16s coach Rob Tuvey (pic), spoke about the ethics that are being built within the Academy in an interview which can be seen via a link to our official YouTube channel below.
"Basically, I went with my school – about 40 of us – to Zambia and Botswana for 20 days doing charity work," explained Jack. "We helped kids by painting schools and saw how their lifestyle compares to ours and the experience was just brilliant.
"Not having a phone really opened my eyes up to see that I don't need it to be happy and nor do they. It's much better communicating among my friends. They barely had an iPod or anything like that and I wanted to sample life out there without my phone or taking photos – which would have just ruined it.
"Having no phone on me was one of the best things about the trip.
"I wanted to help make a difference to those kids' lives. As for them, they have so little, but are so happy and when we came it put a smile on their faces and it put a smile on my face to see them happy with very little.
"The first few days were spent painting the school. That went on each day, for six hours. A regular day for me would be to wake up at six in the morning, go for a walk or jog, then at seven o'clock I would have just cereal and some juice, work for three hours and have a cheese roll for lunch."
"Just seeing them go about their daily lives on just a bread roll for lunch was amazing to me."
The 15 year-old also showed how his life skills are developing on the pitch when he made the step-up to the under-18s towards the end of last season. Shortly after coming on in a Youth Alliance game for Toby Sibbick, young Jack was the subject of a very heavy challenge – only to get back up, finish the game and make quite an impression on Academy Head of Football Mark Robinson with his attitude.
"I did enjoy the experience of going to Africa and I knew it would be life-changing," admitted Jack, who has just been awarded a pre-scholar to be a part of Mark's plans for the future.
"Now I've realised how much I have to work to get places and that also relates to football and basically the moral that we've been given by Rob, 'Robbo' and other coaches to just basically help our development. For me, I would really like to continue a career in football, but it would be nice to do something like this again - maybe after I retire or if I don't make it.
"With my football though, it's really important for me to work hard to get where I want to."
"We're really proud of Jack," added Lead Youth Phase Coach Rob Tuvey. "What he has gone and done off his own back is absolutely fantastic and I think he's come back looking better for it and is talking more on and off the pitch which is aiding his development.
"Throughout the Academy we're trying to build this culture that 'winners do more' and trying to get the boys to understand that the art of communication is so important in this day and age, so we're really proud of him.
"We were really proud to go and help with the stadium clean-up days as well. We're 'one club' and the boys take pride and when they go down to games now – with many of them being season-ticket holders – they can look around and be proud of something they've been a part of."