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Motivation and factors affecting motivation
Motivation and factors affecting motivation

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2 Understanding motivation

Motivation underlies all aspects of human behaviour and can help to explain why people do what they do. At times, though, it may be difficult to understand even your own motivation. Sometimes you will have a clear idea of what you are intending to achieve by your behaviour and the motivation behind it. There may be other times, however, when your motivations are less clear. If it is hard to understand your own motivation, you can appreciate that it is even harder to understand the motivation of others. You also need to appreciate that what motivates you may not motivate another person. If you are active yourself and value the benefits of activity, you may find it difficult and frustrating that this is not shared by others.

The first activity presents a case study of motivation and how it can change due to major life events.

Activity 1 Thinking about personal motivation

Timing: Allow about 45 minutes

Watch the following video clip titled ‘Motivation through adversity: The Fabrice Muamba story’ which shows Fabrice Muamba being interviewed about motivation.

Download this video clip.Video player: Motivation through adversity: The Fabrice Muamba story
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Motivation through adversity: The Fabrice Muamba story
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Fabrice Muamba was born in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) on 6 April 1988 but moved to England at the age of 11. His football career began in 2002 when he asked for a trial at Arsenal and he joined their Youth Academy in 2004 – a year later he turned professional. He later played for Birmingham City and Bolton Wanderers but in March 2012 he suffered a cardiac arrest during a televised FA Cup match between Bolton and Tottenham Hotspur. While he did recover from this, he was forced to retire from professional football in the August of that year.

It is clear that Muamba has had to make a number of changes to his life over the last three years. While you are watching the video clip below, you should consider the following questions:

  1. What factors do you think motivate Fabrice Muamba to play football and to succeed in general life?
  2. How has Fabrice Muamba overcome the obstacles he has faced in his life?
  3. To what extent do you identify with the factors that motivate Fabrice Muamba or are you motivated in a different way?


  1. Fabrice seems to be motivated to play football by the love and enjoyment of the sport. He talks about enjoying playing football from a young age – and getting his school work done so that he could play football – and how he always wanted to be a professional footballer. It is interesting that he wanted to keep playing after his cardiac arrest but was advised not to. When he talks about only being able to watch football he says how much he misses playing and that ‘deep down, it kills me’. Shauna, Fabrice’s wife, describes how driven he is to win and how he always tries his best. She says he is always looking to be a better player and a better person.
  2. There are three main obstacles that Fabrice has had to overcome. Firstly, coming to this country from Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo), and having to integrate into the education system and face the language barrier. He quickly realised how important it was to learn the language so he could learn and live in the UK. Secondly, there has been much rejection in his path to becoming a Premier footballer, as he was rejected initially by the Arsenal Academy and then sold by Arsenal after two appearances. He overcame this by dropping down a league and then working hard to gain promotion with Birmingham City. Thirdly, the largest obstacle was his cardiac arrest due to a congenital heart condition. Anyone who has had to retire from the sport they love can understand a small amount of the pain he must have experienced through retiring at the age of 23. However, due to his own drive, and attitude to education, he is working to gain meaningful employment and appreciating life outside of sport with his family. He has the attitude that these things are challenges rather than obstacles.
  3. Fabrice seems to be strongly motivated by internal forces rather than external factors, such as fame or money. The effect of internal and external motivating factors is a recurring theme of this study topic and you may find that you are motivated more strongly by one than the other. Fabrice also touches on the effects of the environment and other people on motivation when he describes his first match as a Premiership player. You may find that these also influence you.