Sam Squire dedicated to helping the wider community at Cambridge United
Young midfielder eager for active role with Cambridge United Community Trust
Sam Squire has already made an impression at Cambridge United.
He may not yet be familiar to U’s supporters – although the 18-year-old defensive midfielder was one of four scholars given a professional contract at the end of the season – but he is already making a mark in the wider society.
At the Cambridge United Community Trust gala dinner in May, Squire made an impression on guests when, together with women’s player Ruth Fox, he talked about mental health awareness and going into schools to encourage discussion about the subject.
Squire seemed remarkably at ease addressing compere Graham Daniels’ questions in front of the 300 attendees, so much so that people were surprised to learn that he was just 17 at the time.
Even in private conversation with Squire it is deceiving to think of his age and that is a great credit to the teenager, his family and the U’s, who he joined when he was just seven.
It is easy to see why, with such confidence and eloquence, that Squire is already playing a role with the community trust; a decision that was shaped by personal circumstances and arose in conversation at dinner with CUCT chief executive Ben Szreter.
“In regards to mental health, my mum attempted suicide a few years back,” said Squire. “It’s not affected me personally through mental health, but I’ve seen someone have to go through it and I didn’t even know about it.
“It’s something that’s quite close to my heart really. That was the motivation towards getting involved with it, and trying to project it through various schools in and around Cambridgeshire.
“If I can help one person to stop them from getting to the state my mum was in and just speak out because that was the main thing; she had insomnia for up to a year but just kept it away from everyone.
“Obviously we need to speak out with things so that was the main driving force behind doing it, and spreading the word really.
“Seeing the comments and feedback from the kids is rewarding. I’ve done school visits, assemblies and stuff like that and seen how the kids take it on.
“It’s a subject that wasn’t touched upon but the awareness is coming gradually and there is such importance there which has gone under the table for a long time.
“Thankfully, I got offered a one-year development deal so I said to Ben [Szreter] and Andy [Farrer] that I will continue to not only work on that project and keep developing that to a wider audience in Cambridgeshire but I would also like to work on other things like dementia cafes, lonely people in the community, autism football, blind football.
“There are so many different things going on in the next few years. It’s amazing the structure that they have put in place.”
If you can say that Squire is already excelling with his community work, then the same can be said of his studies.
In February, Squire was named in the League Football Education 11, which acknowledges the football and academic progress of under-18 players on apprenticeships at current or former English Football League clubs.
It is also designed to assess other factors, including involvement in community or charity-based initiatives.
As a high achiever in the classroom, attaining distinction grades across all units of his extended BTEC diploma, and with his community work and performances on the pitch, it earned him LFE recognition.
Squire was nominated by his regional officer for the award, featuring in the industry magazine, and said: “If you’re doing well in your education and doing well on the pitch, there is quite a high chance of you getting picked.
“I’ve never really had a bad review on or off the pitch really so he said to me because I did so well over the last two years and the last block I had done really well in, off the pitch and getting a contract, he would put me forward.
“When I’ve looked at the magazine before I thought I would love to be in that, but I’ve never expected to be nominated for it, let alone be in it.”
The recognition was just another part of a successful season for Squire.
He may not have made a first-team appearance for the U’s yet, but he has had valuable experience of men’s football.
Squire spent the last month of the season on loan at Cambridge City, making 10 appearances in a congested run-in to help the Lilywhites to the play-off final, which they eventually lost 1-0 to Hartley & Wintney.
“It was a game every few days so it was a really good phase for me where I could just develop and get to grips with men’s football for the first time,” he said.
“I think not only myself but my family got involved with the club and went full throttle with it. It’s a really nice club, a family-orientated club and they were really welcoming.
“It was very easy to get straight into not only the team but the whole culture so I really enjoyed it.”
The next focus will be trying to make an impression on U’s head coach Joe Dunne and the first-team set-up; and he is looking forward to continuing the association with assistant head coach Mark Bonner, who was previously academy manager.
“With Bons, he is not only a good coach but a good person so having that individual who knows how to make people tick, he will get the best out of not only you but the group in general,” said Squire.
“You get to develop a relationship with him where he is that person you can talk to and he will do whatever for you just to help your development, not only as a player but as a person.
“Him going into the first-team environment and the staff is a great opportunity for me and other young players to try to push into that environment and get the most out of it.
“I’m sure he will help us, and not only help us but the people already in there.”