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Monday 19 November 2012

Enterprise final: 'I will remember this experience for a long, long time'

Students, judges and special guests react to the Enterprise Challenge final in Westminster

  • Ledley King and Richard Scudamore meet the winning St Michael's RC School team

  • St Michael's make their presentation at the Westminster Conference Centre

  • The Rt Hon Michael Fallon finds out more about the business plans from the students

Entrepreneurial youngsters from schools around the country displayed their business and presentational skills in the prestigious Premier League Enterprise Challenge final in Westminster earlier this week.

St Michael's RC School in Billingham, representing Middlesbrough FC, became the fourth school to be crowned Enterprise Challenge champions with Alexandra College of Enterprise, representing West Bromwich Albion, being highly commended by the panel of four judges.

The final, attended by former Tottenham Hotspur captain Ledley King and Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore, is the culmination of months of hard work carried out by students, teachers and staff at the Premier League Enterprise Academies.

The Enterprise Academy programme was initiated by Middlesbrough FC in 2002 and with the help of the Government Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the scheme is running countrywide with 21 clubs involved in Enterprise activities.

The aim is to engage students in enterprise and business using the power of football and to help develop transferable skills such as problem-solving, creativity, innovation and teamwork.

After Tuesday’s final at the Westminster Conference Centre, spoke to those involved as well as some of the special guests to find what they think about the programme.

The students

Max Bover, St Michael’s RC School

I was thinking about doing business for a long time but this has boosted my confidence in picking a business GCSE because I have done something like this and won. It’s a good thing to put on your CV.

When we started I was wishing that we would win but I didn’t think we’d get through. The other teams were great so I was surprised we won.

This competition boosts your confidence. I was nervous at the start but as soon as we began speaking, I lost all my nerves. When they said we had won, I sat there for an extra two seconds with my mouth open. I couldn't believe it.

Elish Chambers, St Michael’s RC School

We thought we were not going to win, which is why we were all so excited. We thought we would be lucky to get highly commended. It was so good, words cannot describe that feeling.

Everybody worked together as a team. It just came together so nicely and we are so proud that all that work put in over the last two months, not just from us but the teachers and the people that we contacted, has paid off.

We were the youngest team, none of us had studied business. We hadn’t heard any of this stuff before. Things like gross and net profit we had to learn from scratch.

Presentations are boring, the judges are watching six presentations, all of which were quite common themes, so to make ours stand out we had to make it personal, funny and interesting.  We all want to take business now and we have all got more self-confidence.

Stevie Coleman, Alexandra College of Enterprise (highly commended)

We have seen from the other teams it was a tough competition so we had to up our game. I am proud of every single one of us. The way we pulled through on the stage because our rehearsals were shambolic and then to be highly commended, I am proud of everybody.

The main thing I have taken from this is self-confidence and working as a team to produce something as good as this.

This scheme is a great idea. I would recommend anyone to do it, even if they are not a football fan. We have had a tour of Westminster the day before the final and it’s not every day you can say that. It was really good.

This has driven me more to do what I want to do. It's nice to win but to come highly commended in the final is something to be proud of. I will remember this experience for a long, long time.

Enfield North MP Nick de Bois was impressed with the Highlands School presentation

The judge

Adam Jackson, Director of Small Business, BIS

Choosing a winner was really difficult. They were all so fantastic. I was on the panel last year and it was difficult then but everyone has raised their game.

I am always impressed by how good the presentations are. I was never that confident at their age; I am not that confident as a presenter as they are now. What was interesting was they all had solid business plans so there was substance behind their presentations. Every team should be proud to go back to their clubs and say here’s what we have come up with and here are some really good plans you can implement.

Any initiative giving young people the ambition, the confidence and the skills to go into business, whether that’s starting their own business or working in business, is fantastic in itself. It brings out people’s potential and develops communities.

What is particularly brilliant about the Premier League programme is if you think about where clubs are they tend to be in areas that maybe have more social/economic problems, maybe have high unemployment, so providing that beacon and drawing young people in and equipping them to think about business is even more valuable.

When I was at school I set up various businesses and my Dad had his own business so I had lots of role models but some young people don’t have role models, which is why the football club is a great way of showing young people what they can do.

Just bringing people in to the clubs shows that they are valuing those young people and are investing in them. It is a superb scheme.

The MP

Nick de Bois, MP for Enfield North, who attended the final to support Highlands School, representing Tottenham Hotspur.

The team came to the House of Commons, they presented their idea and I got it within seconds, they presented it so well. I was intrigued what motivated these youngsters to get into enterprise and business.

They are all doing business studies, which is terrific, but what got me about their presentation was, at this age, they got immediately what they needed to do, they looked and listened to the voice of the customer. They went out, they researched, they listened, and they turned around a very effective presentation. It’s quite clear their logic when tested, is not found wanting.

One of the biggest challenges we face is youth employment. What people are not considering enough of as a choice is perhaps going into business for yourself and thinking about careers outside the usual sphere.

We are going into a completely different economy to the one that I was in: it’s digital-led, creative-led, looking at new markets and to find people at their age, tackling business propositions in non-traditional areas is fantastic.

A year and a half ago when we had the riots in Enfield and that image of young people, people looked at Enfield then and shook their heads in despair. The more and more I see and what other people see of what young people are doing, they are now nodding their heads in approval and this is a great example of what they are doing. I’m really knocked out by it - it's great.

Channel 4's Washington correspondent Matt Frei was the host for the final

The host

Matt Frei, Channel 4 Washington correspondent

The event has been fantastic. There’s been an amazing outburst of charm, ideas and confidence. I don’t think I could have stood on stage with a microphone giving a presentation at that age.

This is about young kids getting engaged in business through football.  Football is the hook. The teams have done their homework. They have met some senior people and some of the presentations have been slick and engaging.

I was very impressed with the presentations. I can just imagine more and more kids getting involved because of the number of people that are into football at that age and if you can harness their skills, confidence and spirit that’s good.

The minister

Rt Hon Michael Fallon MP, Minister of State for Business and Enterprise

Getting young people interested and engaged with enterprise is vital if we are to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs. The Premier League’s Enterprise Challenge is a creative way of kick starting a passion for business in young people. It gives them a real taste for business by pitching their ideas to a panel of business experts.

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Key Points

  • Students, judges and special guests react to this week's Enterprise Challenge final
  • Event was won by St Michael's RC School in Billingham
  • Alexandra College of Enterprise was highly commended