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Sunday 09 March 2014

Enterprise Challenge: 'It is a fantastic opportunity'

Premier League Enterprise Challenge semi-finalists taking shape as clubs select their teams

  • The Everton Free School will represent the Toffees in Thursday's semi-final

  • Around 160 youngsters took part in West Brom's heat at the ACE Academy

  • The Cardiff City team are made up of participants from the club's disability initiatives

The semi-finals of the 2013/14 Premier League Enterprise Challenge are less than a week away 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. Those who come through those tests will take part in the Premier League Enterprise Challenge final at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, in London, on 30 April.

Here, we look at some of those who have made it through to the semi-finals…

Everton

The Toffees will be represented at the Sunderland semi-final by a team from Everton Free School after the club heat, which was attended by Everton in the Community chief executive officer and Everton's deputy chief executive, Dr Denise Barrett-Baxendale.

The judges were impressed by the team's comprehensive idea of replicating the work the club carry out from the grassroots up, such as helping to tackle gang culture with a Premier League Kicks-style project in the United States, while African projects would be tailored to address issues such as access to education and preventing the spread of diseases like malaria.

"It is fantastic to have an opportunity like this, that doesn't come around very often," said 16-year-old Caleb Jones, who was part of the winning team. “We are all quietly confident about the semi-finals. It will mean so much to us all and give us an enormous sense of pride to represent Everton in a national final."

It is a notable achievement for the Everton Free School, which was launched in 2012 by Everton in the Community and caters for young people aged 14-19 and offers an alternative education pathway to those who have become detached from traditional schooling.

"I'm extremely proud of what each participant has achieved here today," said Everton in the Community's apprentice liaison officer Danielle Azanuwha, who co-ordinated the competition. "I am sure our team of Everton representatives will do us justice at the Stadium of Light and make all those associated with the Club proud to be Blue."

West Bromwich Albion

West Bromwich Albion have selected a team made up of five youngsters from the ACE Academy in Tipton after a unique selection process that took place over four heats.

The heats, of which one involved participants from the Foundation's PL Kicks project, featured almost 200 young people with every student having the chance to represent the club. Instead of a winning team being selected, the five best pupils from the heats were chosen to form a team for the semi-final.

The team's proposal is split into two parts, one for Africa and one for the US. The US plans involve links with tourist agencies and NBA and NFL teams, while the other part would develop the relationship the club have with Africa through the three players they have: Nigeria (Victor Anichebe), Benin (Stephane Sessesgnon) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (Youssuf Mulumbu).

First-team player Morgan Amalfitano got involved with the challenge by meeting some of the students, hearing their presentations and taking part in a Q&A session while all the PL Kicks participants who took part were treated to a trip to The Hawthorns for West Brom's Barclays Premier League match against Chelsea.

"The standard was very good," said Sam Buckle, Triple A head coach at the Albion Foundation. "Every pupil that took part applied themselves and took pride in their work. The opportunity to represent West Bromwich Albion gave them that extra incentive.

"The five pupils who won are really looking forward to the semi-final on Tuesday. It's about how they deliver it on the day. I am sure they will do the school and the club proud."

Cardiff City

Cardiff City's winning team had a special treat when they were announced as the club's representatives for the semi-finals at West Bromwich Albion.

The 'Cardiff City Bluebirds', consisting of participants from the club's disability initiatives, were not told about their triumph on the day of the heat but were invited along to the home match against Aston Villa on 11 February, where an announcement was made on the big screen at half-time.

The team's idea is to run pre-season matches in South Africa and the United States and forging links with the New York Red Bulls and Johannesburg side, the Kaizer Chiefs. The proposal includes the opportunity to host community soccer schools, while in the longer term, the team envisage academies operating in both areas with players travelling to Wales and taking on counterparts from Cardiff City's Academy.

"I'm really proud of what the guys have achieved so far," said Cardiff City Foundation disability manager Chris McDermott. "Their enthusiasm and commitment for the task so far has been tremendous.

"Volunteers who have helped with delivery have commented on how players have grown in confidence week by week. It’s been a great project for the staff and participants to experience and it is has been a fantastic opportunity for participants with a disability to work on a project with the football club they support."

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