Friday 28 February 2014
The semi-finals of the 2013/14 Premier League Enterprise Challenge are just around the corner and clubs from the Premier League and Football League up and down the country have been deciding who will represent them in this year’s tournament.
Twenty-three clubs are taking part in the fifth edition of the Premier League Enterprise Challenge, which tasks students with developing ideas to solve a real-life business scenario set by the Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore. This year's challenge, which focuses on developing a football club's revenue streams from international markets, is detailed in full here >>.
The teams who win the right to represent their clubs will take part in the semi-finals at West Bromwich Albion on 11 March or Sunderland on 13 March. The teams who come through those tests will take part in the Enterprise Challenge final at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills on 30 April.
Here, we look at some of those who have made it through to the semi-finals…
Small Heath School from the south of Birmingham came through tough competition at Villa Park to represent Aston Villa at the semi-finals at West Bromwich Albion.
The six-strong team - Shamima Begum (15), Pradeep Chagger (15), Sami Raza (16), Aitisam Sultan (16), Adham Morsi (16) and team manager Jeevan Chagger (17) - were selected with their idea of encouraging young people in USA and Africa to play football in Aston Villa football camps and also to use these venues to "search for a star". Through these camps they could produce sponsorship for the young people to come and play at the Villa academy, which would generate interest from friends and families to travel over to Villa Park and become fans.
"Team Euphoria" were selected because, according to the judging panel, "they had the best combination of research, presentation skills, ability to answer tough questions posed to them, and strong solutions to the business issue at hand - the most important factor."
The panel added: "The level of competition was very good. All had strengths which would have seen them make good representatives for Aston Villa and showed good business knowledge. The level of research was very impressive."
Almost all the Small Heath School students are from minority ethnic backgrounds. The proportion of students eligible for student support (including free school meals) is very high and the proportion of students receiving extra support is above average.
Villa have witnessed a significant rise in Enterprise Challenge participation compared with last year. There were 41 young people and nine teams involved for the 2013/14 competition. Out of the teams competing, six were selected for the regional final at Villa Park.
Two Premier League projects combined at Newcastle United as a team from the club's PL Kicks programme were named the Magpies' representatives.
The team of Jamie Anderson, Ljubomir Petrovic, Shakil Mashud and Jeff Kung are all participants in PL Kicks, a programme run in conjunction with Sport England and the local police, which uses the power of football and sports participation to engage youngsters in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the community. The PL Kicks team came through a competitive selection process which involved 150 young people. The number was reduced to 50 for the St James' Park regional final which included teams from St Cuthbert's RC High, Monkseaton High and Southlands School.
The panel of judges were impressed by the idea of forming relationships with universities in the North East to offer US-style scholarships to African and American students, hopefully finding stars of the future so that it would increase interest in their home countries.
The panel, which included former Newcastle player Brian Kilcline, was also impressed with that as the youngsters were not from the same school, they had to meet up in their own time to formulate and finalise their ideas and presentation.
"They all want to represent their football club and that's something that is really special about the challenge," said Sam McLoughlin, Newcastle United Foundation's project manager for community. "When we say to young people that you have the chance to represent Newcastle at a national event, there's a wow factor."
Sunderland AFC selected Consett Academy as their representatives for this year's Enterprise Challenge after a regional heat with more than 100 young people from seven Wearside schools.
Georgia Craggs, Ellie Pearson, Katie Merritt and Caitlin Stephenson, who had only two weeks to prepare for the heat, were chosen with their idea of a travel scheme that will give fans in America and Africa the opportunity to visit the club. The initiative would also give Sunderland fans the chance to visit Africa for matches, building on the ties the club have with the region.
"We are extremely proud of the partnerships that we have forged to make this project a success and look forward to bringing schools and the business community even closer over the coming years," said Foundation of Light enterprise co-ordinator Chris Hooker.
As part of the regional heat, participants were also given the chance to tour the Stadium of Light, view footage from previous Enterprise Academy challenges and hear from the former footballer Dick Malone, part of Sunderland’s 1973 FA Cup-winning team.
Freeborough Academy will represent the holders Middlesbrough FC as they aim to defend the title the club's team won last year.
Year 10 students Sam Taberner, Lewis Winspear, Jess Barker, Bethany Smith and Michael Algie came up with the idea of twinning with two clubs in the target markets and, by using Middlesbrough coaches, creating a legacy by inspiring young people in the region.
Seven other teams were involved in the club's competition, with all the teams invited to a Middlesbrough match for a pitch-side presentation.