Fundraising footballer swaps boots for a headset

10 January 2017

Former Southampton footballer Franny Benali inspired air traffic controllers with football anecdotes and charity fundraising tales in his premier appearance at NATS’ Swanwick centre.

The ex-Saints star joined a team meeting of air traffic control supervisors to share his experiences of how strong team working has inspired his success.

He talked about his recent charity marathon and cycling challenges and how the support from his family, his fitness team and people he met along the way were vital in keeping him motivated.

He said a supportive team working together to reach their goals in a high performance environment was as essential for him on the pitch as it is for the air traffic controllers in the operations at NATS.

At the event last week the air traffic control supervisors also learned more about the key leadership qualities that made successful football managers, such as being a people person and focussing on positive achievements to motivate the squad than emphasising an individual’s mistake.

Brian Wheeler, Operational Supervisor Terminal Control at Swanwick, NATS, who organised the visit for his team, said: “It was fantastic to have Franny along for the day. The idea was for the team to get a football legend’s perspective of what skills and attributes make a strong team. We can learn from him and make our team even stronger.

“It was also a great chance to show Franny, as someone who’s grown up in Southampton, what we do at NATS as one of the largest employers in Hampshire.”

The player turned pundit also got the chance to ‘plug in’ a headset and listen to air traffic controllers speak to the pilots as part of a tour of the control centre.

Franny Benali said: “Many people say ‘there’s no ‘I’ in ‘team’ but I talked to them about how I feel there is an ’I’ in terms of each individual having a responsibility and playing their part in the job.

“It was great to be able to spend the day here. There’s a great vibe here at NATS and there’s a serious amount of work that goes on here that I didn’t appreciate before my visit.”

For more information about a career in air traffic control visit


UK Flights

Departed today
Landed today
Currently airborne
Handled yesterday

Please start typing and we will search our website for you.

Search Results