Mehran Rowshan draws on the Samurai Mindset for empowered youth mentorship

Sport360 staff 14:53 29/03/2021
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  • Youth mentor: Mehran Rowshan

    Inspired by the Way of the Samurai, for the last few years, Mehran Rowshan has been developing various character development programmes for young people; Youth Mentorship, Youth Masterclasses, and Braining (Brain Training) being three of them. His aim is to help build a pathway and encourage meaningful character advancement for the young generation, both on and off the pitch. This approach has allowed him to provide Alliance FC players with tools to harness rational decision-making, and to face all situations with a problem-solving outlook.

    Research shows that training hard whilst being aware of the worst possible outcome, are two powerful techniques for promoting calm. Samurais trained relentlessly. They strongly believed you should always “be prepared” – why? Preparation reduces fear, so when things get tense, you don’t have to think but instead, you’re training both physically and mentally will have prepared you to act intuitively. After all, samurais survived catastrophic scenarios like battles and wars. Their secret? Being prepared.

    And Mehran is dedicated to aiding young people through sports and coaching to follow their natural path from A to B with his Youth Mentorship programme. As a dynamic coach who is constantly evolving with our fast-paced environment, Mehran works with realities, scenarios, and belief systems; all of the aspects that dictate and influence the way people think, feel, and behave. His toolkit for creating transformation, development, and general excellence combines extensiveness training, and practical experience in this field.

    Here, Mehran tells us more about his vision for youth mentorship through sports, the methods he uses, and why listening is the key to connecting with young minds.

    Lets start at the beginning – when did you first discover that youth mentorship was a passion of yours?

    I’ve always had a deep interest in making things better; even at 10, I was into developing something like growing plants or creating small structures such as a pond or a wall inside our villa.

    Once I became a coach who interacts with youth every day, I was destined to become a mentor too. To see how young boys and girls develop their character over time, that’s the most beautiful feeling a coach can have. 

    What are some of the methods and schools of thought that you employ in your approach to youth empowerment and mentoring?

    The first step is defining a youth mentor because most parents wrongfully consider a youth mentor as a lecturer or adviser. I certainly don’t see myself as either. My definition of a youth mentor is having a qualified, knowledgeable and experienced mentor present in a young individual’s life. A support system outside of the family who is consistently involved when needed.

    Mentoring is not a one-way traffic; it’s two-way traffic. A youth mentor has to listen more than they talk.

    I always start by establishing a respectful relationship with the mentee. This does not happen by using “words” but more through my behaviour and actions. Teens need to accept that your presence is to help them when needed and that regardless of the circumstances, you will never judge them. Without the mentee’s trust, you can be the best advisor in town and still fail to make any difference in a teen’s life.

    Here are some of the things that I do not do:

    • Tell them what to think.
    • Decide for them.
    • Interfere in their daily lives or even the harmful habits that they might have.

    Instead, in two single sentences, I help them:

    • Learn how to decide.
    • Become more comfortable in uncomfortable situations. 

    We are in the year 2021, a fast-paced time with everything at our disposal. Why do you think there should be more of a focus and importance on youth mentorship now more than ever?

    Kids, teens and even adults are exposed to a tremendous amount of information every day, from school to their friendship circles and the more dominant world of social media.

    Regardless of how we as parents try, we are no longer in charge of what our children can see, hear, read and learn.

    The age of censorship is over, and kids will always find a way to access information. Are they competent enough to deal with open information?

    How can we safeguard our children when we are not in charge?

    The answer is teaching them how to decide and how to process the information that they receive.

    A youth mentor can download enough thinking references in a child’s brain so that person can make the logical decision in any situation.

    What do you hope to achieve through your youth mentorship programme?

    The number one target is to nurture thinkers and problem-solvers from a young age.

    We all see adults in our lives who are incapable of dealing with disappointments and failure. Just imagine if they had someone (outside the family) at a young age who could help them discover how to deal with problems.

    Parents hire personal fitness trainers for their kids, why not do the same for their cognitive and character development too?

    From your experience, what are some of the most beneficial learnings that children and young adults can gain from youth mentorship and coaching?

    You’d be surprised at how many times I’ve been asked to decide for a teenager in a youth mentorship programme. “Making the best logical decision” by the teen themselves is the whole point of having a mentor.

    Another huge benefit is being independent enough to deal with their challenges instead of using parents as their escape route. One aspect of youth mentorship is to empower teens so that they turn problems into opportunities. From small tasks to big decisions, a teenager has to have enough thinking references to become a problem-solver.

    Speaking from a personal perspective, what is it about coaching and mentorship, in particular working with youth, that interests you?

    Making a difference in someone’s life and making an impact more significant than you ever imagined brings such internal satisfaction.

    These teens have no connection to successful, professional adults outside of their family. When you mentor them, you become the ambassador to a future world of success that is often unknown, complicated, scary and seemingly unattainable.

    An inter-generational link emerges when you (a 40-year-old) share your life’s story with a 13-year-old teenager. When I began youth mentorship, I did it blindly without a return-on-investment in mind but a possibility for potential.

    Most of my students stay in touch and are adults now — in their late twenties—who have become business owners, sports coaches, athletes and teachers.

    What are some of the most common issues that are brought to your attention for mentoring and coaching the youth?

    Mentoring youth is a much more challenging task than mentoring adult simply because we deal with individuals whose character development is still being shaped. Every teen is different and has his/her ideas on how to live. Finding a starting point to work with them is, most of the time, the 1st challenge that I have.

    Often, I face the challenge of educating parents on different aspects of youth mentorship.

    A competent mentor does what’s right for the mentee instead of doing what the parents expect.

     Tells us three reasons why you would make for a good choice of mentor for the youth?

    I don’t do it for the money. I can make more money with my time, but I see it as a moral responsibility to mentor the youth.

    I’m not a text-book coach. Years of non-stop coaching has helped me develop a unique mentorship approach. I’ve mentored hundreds of teenagers; some of them are now business owners, teachers and coaches themselves.

    Despite my expertise, I see myself as a lifelong student. Learning never stops.

    For parents and peers who want to enroll their child for youth mentorship or coaching, but dont know where to begin, explain in your own words how they can approach the conversation?

    It’s important to say that I’m not a therapist or a child psychologist. If they’re looking for youth mentorship, they can contact me through my website:

    I currently don’t accept new mentees, but parents are welcome to approach me for any questions or advice.

    Mentoring and coaching is often confused with therapy, what is your opinion on this?

    That’s an excellent point that parents should be aware of. Therapy focuses on the past and the present, whereas youth mentorship helps teenagers get to where they want to be in the future.

    Every teenager needs a mentor outside their family. Unfortunately, there are not many qualified youth mentors out there. That’s why some families hire therapists, psychologists and life coaches.

    In what ways do you keep your mentor and coach training updated and informed of all the latest tools and techniques?

    My main job is running a youth football club in Dubai, which means making sure that all of our boys and girls get the best education possible, not just as a footballer but more importantly, as a person. To achieve this, I have to consistently keep myself up to date with the latest braining (brain training) methods to educate our coaches.

    There are no structured education pathways for youth mentorship. Everything has to be self-driven. Another way of getting better every day is to interact with other coaches around the world. Currently, I’m a founding member of a private coaching network with some of the world’s top life coaches.

    Looking ahead, what do you predict for the future of youth mentoring and coaching?

    The demand for youth mentorship will grow significantly in the next few years. Today, children’s mental health issues and well-being are actively addressed, and many people attempt creative ways to deal with life’s challenges.

    Society places an essential value on self-improvement, and because of this, the demand for youth coaches is likely to grow, and excel.

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