Thursday 28 February 2013
Students from St Michael’s RC School in Billingham can look forward to a memorable trip to London after being crowned 2012 Premier League Enterprise Challenge champions.
The entrepreneurial team of Olivia Shovlin, Amy Buck, Elish Chambers, Max Bover and Joe Buck, representing Middlesbrough Football Club, beat five other schools to come out on top in a highly competitive final at Westminster Conference Centre in London.
As well as impressing with their ideas and business plan, St Michael's wowed the 'Dragons' Den'-style judging panel with their eight-minute pitch which they delivered without notes.
"We have won the nationals so that will inspire the whole school"
Their proposals, designed to improve the matchday experience for supporters, included setting up a smartphone app to offer ticketless sales, an interactive stadium map and an option for pre-ordering club merchandise; hawker-style food and drink sellers; colour-coded walkways, as well as the use of inspirational quotes from figures from the local area.
Their prize will be a trip to London, where they will conduct a Q&A session with Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore at the Premier League's offices; visit Downing Street to meet Lord Young, who advises the Prime Minister on small business and enterprise; as well as having the special honour of opening the London Stock Exchange.
"It's absolutely amazing that a little school from Billingham has won the national award," St Michael's Raising Achievement Coordinator Patricia Carroll told premierleague.com. "It will make such a difference to our school because we are in a high unemployment area.
"I always try to get the students to aim high and now we have done it, we have won the nationals so that will inspire the whole school. It has shown them what they can achieve.
"We have always known what a great school we are but this is the icing on the cake. I am really proud of them. We have put a lot of work into it. They gel well as a team, their ideas were very creative. It's been such an amazing experience.
"It will definitely influence what they will pick in Year 10 and even if they don’t do business studies, it's given them the taste of the world of work and what you have to do. This is amazing."
The award is a significant moment for Middlesbrough as it comes 10 years after their community department launched the first Enterprise Academy in 2002. The pioneering scheme was the basis and the inspiration for the initiative which, in partnership with the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), was rolled out nationally in 2008.
"It's important that kids realise what they can achieve"
The six Enterprise Challenge finalists, consisting of Year 9-11 students, have been working for the last two months on a brief set by Scudamore, which this year focused on improving customer service.
They have conducted research, come up with ideas, met club officials and other businesses, produced a fully costed financial plan as well as perfecting their presentations.
After coming through two semi-finals, at Aston Villa and Newcastle United, the six teams then battled out the final at the home of BIS, which coincided with the launch of Global Entrepreneurship Week (12-18 November).
There were a host of distinguished guests in attendance, including former Tottenham Hotspur captain Ledley King, Scudamore and the Minister of State for Business and Enterprise the Rt Hon Michael Fallon MP, while the event was hosted by the Channel 4 News Washington correspondent Matt Frei.
"It's important that kids realise what they can achieve," King told premierleague.com. "I look back to when I was playing, I was from the East End of London and the mentality was that nothing good happens to people from this kind of area.
"So when I looked up to someone like Sol Campbell and saw that he was from the same area, it made me believe that it can be done.
"It's important to get that across to the kids, it doesn’t matter where you are from, if you put the hard work in, and you have got the will and the dedication, you really can achieve.
"It’s the Premier League hook that's helped them to acknowledge that they do have skills in areas that they probably never realised and hopefully a few of them will go on to do really great things in business."
"It is a real experience for the young people using the backdrop of Premier League clubs to widen their educational horizons"
As well as the main prize, the judges also highly commended the work of the team from Alexandra College of Enterprise in Sandwell, who were representing West Bromwich Albion.
The other schools taking part were Aylsham High School ( Norwich City), Highlands School (Tottenham Hotspur), Archbishop Beck Catholic High School (Liverpool) and West Hill School (Manchester City).
Richard Scudamore, said: "The Premier League Enterprise Challenge is one of the highlights of the Premier League season. It is a real experience for the young people using the backdrop of Premier League clubs to widen their educational horizons. The Enterprise Challenge arms all those who participate with new skills like presentation, planning and negotiation.
"It is also great for the Premier League to be part of Global Entrepreneurship Week as there is much we can learn from Government departments like BIS.
"When you are operating in 212 territories, with only one office in London, having people around the world like British embassies, our ambassadors, UK Trade & Investment or the British Council, is very useful because they can facilitate whatever we are trying to do internationally."
The inaugural Enterprise Challenge was held in 2009 and was won by Everton, with Tottenham Hotspur taking the title in 2010 and Blackpool winning last year.
The Challenge aims to encourage and develop a variety of business skills including problem-solving, creativity, innovation, team-work and enterprise. Each of the 21 football clubs with a Premier League Enterprise Academy are invited to take part, with the clubs holding their own competition involving local schools.
If you are interested in taking part in the Premier League Enterprise Academy and the Enterprise Challenge, please contact Sophie Hukin via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.