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A Football Journey: CALLUM HAWKINS

Updated: Jul 2

The Inspiring Journey of Callum Hawkins: A Story of Resilience and Dedication

Callum Hawkins headshot for Burton Albion in the 2022/23 season

Every project, no matter how big or small, has its own unique story. As today we take a look at the journey of Callum Hawkins, the goalkeeper, for example. His journey is all about bouncing back and staying dedicated in the world of sports. From facing tough times to celebrating victories and learning important lessons, Callum's career so far has had it all. Whether he's sweating it out in training or making crucial saves during a match, each part of his story adds to the drama. His love for the game, never-give-up attitude, and unbeatable spirit are a true inspiration for budding footballers and anyone with big dreams.

Let's dive into what fuels Callum's passion, straight from the man himself!

'Why Goalkeeping?'

Callum Hawkins in his season prior to signing for the Sheffield Wednesday academy

A question I've been asked all of my footballing life, and honestly, it was quite simple: I really enjoyed diving around in the mud and making saves. I first put on the gloves at age 8 for my one and only season in grassroots football. That is a season I still look back on fondly, as we won the league and only conceded in the final game of the season. From that season onwards, my love for football only grew.

Taking my love for football to a new level, I was lucky to join the academy of my childhood club Sheffield Wednesday. Despite not meeting my dreams of reaching the first team in the end of my time there, it paved the way for my future journey, which ultimately led to the establishment of the brand that we see today.

Tell us more about your journey?

As I mentioned above, I was signed at Sheffield Wednesday after only a single year in grassroots football, I was fortunate enough to spend the majority of my school years with my childhood club before decision were made over scholarship options. After not receiving a scholarship offer at Sheffield Wednesday at the age of 16, I explored other opportunities by trialing at different clubs, including Hull City and Wimbledon. Eventually, I successfully secured a scholarship at Burton Albion, where I continued my development as a player.

During the next two years, I had a busy schedule playing for Burton Albion and attending Burton and South Derbyshire College. I settled in well and was lucky to be playing for most of my first year as a scholar. One highlight was participating in the FA Youth Cup in Sunderland, despite not achieving a good result, it was a valuable learning opportunity.

Callum Hawkins during his FA Youth Cup tie with Sheffield United

During my second year, I had a similar experience, but this time I was loaned to the local club Gresley Rovers, a team that has become very special to me due to the incredible opportunities they provided. It was a memorable season as I made over 30 appearances at the age of 17-18. Additionally, I was fortunate to participate in the FA Youth Cup with Burton once more, facing Sheffield United, the rivals of my childhood team, on my 18th birthday. Despite not achieving the desired outcome, it was a privilege to be appointed captain for that match. Before the season ended, I felt thankful for being named the scholar of the year by the academy, which was a significant honour for me.

Callum Hawkins warming up for Burton Albion at the Pirelli Stadium

In May of that year, I was fortunate enough to join the 1% of individuals who make it as a Professional Footballer, a milestone that remains one of my proudest accomplishments. I spent an incredible 5 years as a professional player at Burton, alongside some successful loan spells at Mickleover Sports and Leamington.

There were definitely more positives than negatives in my first year as a professional, such as being placed on the bench several times in my debut year as a professional. However, my second year took a drastic turn after I tore my ACL in training following the first game of the season. This injury kept me out of action for six months, leading to the premature end of that season. I received great support from the club during that difficult period, and the manager at the time, Nigel Clough, showed his faith in me by extending my contract for another season.

Callum Hawkins warming up away at Sunderland

This is the moment I realised that the game had offered me so much, prompting me to begin giving back to it. Subsequently, Hawk goalkeeping was born, but we will delve into that later.

Looking back to my third to fifth season in the professional game, there were numerous positive aspects, including loan stints at Mickleover and, most notably, Leamington as i mentioned earlier, where I gained my initial exposure to National League North football. It was during my fifth season that I began to find my stride in the National League North. However, my progress was halted by another injury, this time a torn ACL in my other leg, as well as tears in both menisci, resulting in a setback of 7 months.

Callum Hawkins during a Leamington fixture in the 2023/24 season

At that time, I was reaching the conclusion of my contract with Burton Albion, which they decided not to renew. Nonetheless, they supported me until I fully recovered, for which I am grateful. It was during the 2023/24 season when I experienced one of my most cherished seasons in football. Following my debut as a permanent signing for Leamington, who had unfortunately been relegated the previous season following my injury, we suffered a 4-0 defeat to Boston United after being reduced to 10 men early in the game, this however was just a blip in what was a fantastic season. Following that game I began to regained my form from prior to my injury and went on to make 32 league appearances with 12 clean sheets that season. This performance placed us in third position, giving us a strong chance in the playoffs.

Prior to discussing the playoffs, I want to express my gratitude for the love and support I have received from my clubs, both current and former teammates, as well as everyone who has been part of my journey. Every moment, whether positive or negative, has contributed to where I am today.

Callum Hawkins celebrating a save in Leamington's playoff run

So back to it... The playoffs were a whirlwind of emotions, from the intense semi-final match against Redditch United, where both teams had their chances. A crucial fingertip save in extra time followed by Jack Edwards' goal in the second half of extra time brought us though. It was a game filled with excitement, but just like that, the final awaited us.

The final, it was cagey as expected and very little came in terms of chances, yes we rode our luck at times but if you want to win things sometimes you need that little bit of luck on your side and that day we did. I still cant remember clearly how we scored the winner, with Ewan Williams popping up at the back post to score but seeing that 650 strong crowd at the far end of the stadium gave me goosebumps. In the final 15 minutes, we persevered and when I managed to catch the high ball amidst a crowd of players with the last kick of the game, we could finally breathe. The exhilarating moment of hearing the crowd roar was truly breathtaking, despite it resulting in a flare being thrown towards me by a home supporter.

Callum Hawkins lifting the playoff final trophy

The celebrations warrant a separate paragraph. Being able to celebrate with my loved ones and fans, with a medal around my neck and a trophy in my hands, was one of the greatest experiences of my life. We accomplished what no one anticipated - securing promotion back to the National League North in our first attempt, all in front of some of the most incredible fans I've had the privilege to play for.

The journey is far from complete, and I eagerly anticipate what the future holds as I am focused on making a comeback to the National League North this season.

So, could you tell us more about why you started Hawk Goalkeeping?

So as I mentioned above, it was during my rehab of my first ACL injury I decided to give back to goalkeeping for the journey that it has given to me and I wanted to do that by creating products that Goalkeepers can be confident wearing without the price tag of the big names.

Growing up, I was lucky that my parents could always afford to get me top-quality gloves. However, with prices on the rise, it's becoming increasingly challenging for parents and adult goalkeepers to find reliable gloves without breaking the bank. That's why I created Hawk Goalkeeping, offering gloves made from premium materials suitable for professionals, accessible to goalkeepers of all levels.

Callum Hawkins wearing the Hawk Goalkeeping TOTAL5

We use top-quality elite German Contact latex, which is commonly used in top brands. Our backhand designs are strategically created to support the modern punching technique. I have always insisted on including finger spines in my gloves, so I ensured that every Hawk Goalkeeping glove model comes with removable finger spines so every goalkeeper can personalise their protection for their needs.

I have always been intrigued by innovation, beginning with Nike's VaporGrip 3 that was introduced years ago. In 2023, I dedicated myself to refining a cut that offers excellent ball control and feel without compromising protection or maneuverability. This effort resulted in the development of our TOTAL5 cut, designed to envelop the hand in various ways to ensure optimal ball contact. Our ambassadors have embraced this cut effortlessly and have all appreciated the performance of these gloves.

While the brand has primarily focused on Goalkeeper Gloves until now, we are looking to expand into other product categories in the near future. We have exciting developments in progress that will be unveiled on our social media pages coming months, so be sure to follow us on our social channels.

I am personally thrilled by the brand's growth from its modest beginning and take pride in the progress we have made so far. I invite you all to come along with us on this journey and help us to grow our Hawk Goalkeeping family.

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