Tuesday 06 March 2012
Budding entrepreneurs from St George's School in Blackpool enjoyed the trip of a lifetime this week as their prize for winning the 2011 Premier League Enterprise Challenge.
The five Year 10 students, representing Blackpool Football Club, came through a regional heat before beating 15 other teams in a rigorous selection process to win the third annual competition in November last year.
And their reward was a trip to London to have a question and answer session with Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore and a visit to the House of Commons for a meeting with Business and Enterprise Minister Mark Prisk.
"It's been an out-of-this-world experience"
- Tiah Houghton
They also called in on PL Partner and supporter of the Premier League Enterprise Academies, Nike, to design their own trainers while they were able to take in the sights and sounds of the capital, including the London Eye, Oxford Street and a West End show.
"It's been an out-of-this-world experience," said St George's team leader Tiah Houghton. "We couldn't have done anything more."
All 18 clubs with a Premier League Enterprise Academy were invited to take part in the 2011 competition, which challenged the teams to come up with ideas to "enhance the supporter/matchday experience at Premier League matches".
The Blackpool team, consisting of Tiah, Lucy Cox, Tom Rowland, Bradley Webster and Jack Williams came up with the idea of an interactive smartphone app of the matchday programme.
And after producing a five-page business plan, financial forecasts and a short film to accompany their five-minute pitch to a panel of judges, they won the final at Tottenham Hotspur's White Hart Lane.
"We will definitely get involved if anything like this comes up again and grasp that opportunity for what it gives the pupils"
- Tina Milner
As part of their prize they visited the Premier League offices and they were able to present their idea to Richard Scudamore, who in turn quizzed the team about their proposal as well as taking questions himself.
"The main thing I learnt from Richard is that nothing is an individual effort, you are always working as a team," said Bradley, who apart from the trip to Tottenham, had never been to London before.
Tiah added: "I was nervous about speaking to Richard before we went in, we were practising beforehand.
"It was quite nerve wracking but as soon as he came in we were totally at ease. It was a really nice atmosphere."
Tina Milner, the Business Enterprise Enrichment Co-ordinator of St George's School, said the students had learnt a great deal from their time at the Premier League.
"Richard was very kind giving his time and his advice, they have learnt a lot from it," she said. "He obviously appreciates his team and that's a good lesson for the kids, about working well with people and the importance of relationships.
She added: "The whole experience has been fantastic. On this kind of level, they will never get a better experience, it's been amazing.
"We will definitely get involved if anything like this comes up again and grasp that opportunity for what it gives the pupils."
The team then went to the House of Commons to meet with Mark Prisk, who gave the students a brief tour of the iconic building before taking their questions on the famous Terrace.
"I very much want to commend the clubs and the Premier League in what they are doing because very often they can reach parts of the younger generation that Government never can," he said.
"I very much want to commend the clubs and the Premier League in what they are doing"
- Mark Prisk
"The important thing about this is giving people a flavour of what being your own boss is about, what self-employment is about, about how you take a good idea and turn it into something that's a profitable venture.
"We need to make sure that whatever people's background, there's a chance for them to be able to get a flavour for this, get some excitement and some inspiration so that hopefully later on in their careers they will look back on this and draw on that experience to use to good purposes."
Alison Sadler, the Enterprise Academy Manager at Blackpool Football Club, said she has seen a real difference in the youngsters during the course of the Enterprise Challenge.
"I have seen them grow in confidence, definitely," she said. "They have learned responsibility and to be accountable for their actions. They did not want to let anyone down.
"They learned communication skills, confidence, the ability to work and research on their own and to overcome any issues they have had to face.
"All credit to them because they have done all the work. I was really proud of them at Tottenham to call them my team, they are excellent ambassadors for the club and the town and a real credit to the school."
The Enterprise Challenge, which was first run in 2009, has become an important milestone in the Premier League Creating Chances programme.
Over 65,000 young people have been involved in enterprise activities with the Premier League Enterprise Academies so far, with a 92% success rate for those completing the course.
Read more about the Premier League Enterprise Academy.
Read more about the Premier League Enterprise Challenge.
Read the full Premier League Creating Chances report.