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Wednesday 20 November 2013

Premier League Enterprise Challenge 'helped us immensely'

Ahead of the launch of the 2013 Challenge, we hear from one of last year's finalists

A review of the finals of the annual entrepreneurial challenge for schoolchildren

Stamford Bridge tomorrow will host the launch of the fifth edition of the Premier League Enterprise Challenge, a national competition that pits teams of Year 9-11 students against each other as they prepare business proposals and presentations to a brief set by Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore.

The Enterprise Challenge is the highlight of the Premier League Enterprise Academy scheme, which is supported by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BiS) and uses the knowledge of football clubs to engage youngsters in enterprise and business activities. One school that has been through the Enterprise Challenge experience is Aylsham High School, whose team represented Norwich City last year and reached the national final, where they pitched their ideas to a judging panel.

"The challenge has helped them immensely in terms of their business understanding"
Emmalucy Auber

"The Enterprise Challenge was fantastic," Emmalucy Auber, Aylsham High School’s head of business and enterprise, said. "You have got a limited time for the students to understand some quite key and complex business theory and this was an opportunity to make the learning real for the students. The challenge has helped them immensely in terms of their business understanding, like their planning, communication, teamwork and risk taking.

"Students are inspired by what happens in society, and football, especially the Premier League, is such a massive part of society and to bring football and education together, that's a win, win for the students and staff."

Last year's challenge was to improve customer service for fans on matchdays. As part of their research, the Aylsham High students were invited to Norwich City to find out how the business side of the club works and met directors and chief executive David McNally.

"We got so much access to Norwich City, seeing them running as a business which was the most important thing for me as a season-ticket holder," Jack Cleaver, one of the students, said. "I liked seeing behind the scenes. It was a brilliant challenge, really well set out and organised."

"We hope to be role models for the rest of our school"
Hazel Needham

The team had the chance to meet McNally three times before the final but the involvement of the club did not end there, with the chief executive also visiting Aylsham High to present signed Norwich City shirts at an assembly last December.

"It was inspirational," said student Charlotte Foster. "It was amazing for him to give up his time to just talk to us about how he was proud of us for what we have done for Norwich City football club."

Auber added: "David McNally was very supportive. To give up that time to meet us was incredible for those young people, who knew they were being taken seriously. Then he came to our assembly and told the whole school of his pride at Aylsham representing Norwich City. To have him on the school stage, talking to my students was the highlight of my career."

The team's proposals included cashless catering and they impressed Norwich City so much that the club have introduced some of their suggestions this season.

"We are honoured to say Norwich have listened to our ideas and have taken them on,” said student Hazel Needham. "It has showed us that hard work, teamwork and organisation that we did for the challenge paid off. We hope to be role models for the rest of our school and show them that if they try hard they can go places."

"As with most things in life, the more effort you put in the more you get out of it"
Jack Cleaver

Taking part in the Enterprise Challenge has made a big impact on the Aylsham High team, with one now working on a part-time basis at the club, while another has earned an apprenticeship with the National Grid.

"There were 10,000 applications for two apprenticeships on offer and he got one of them," Auber said. "Without this challenge his confidence would not have been anywhere near the levels needed to get something as big as that apprenticeship. It really did help him."

And how would last year’s finalists advise the teams representing the 23 Barclays Premier League and Football League clubs this year?

"Let the students lead the ideas," Auber said. "As teachers, you want to jump in but there are times when you just need to step back. The students are so creative and innovative. There is so much you can learn from them."

Cleaver added: "Throw yourself at it, be really dedicated, because you can reap the benefits. As with most things in life, the more effort you put in the more you get out of it."

The 2012 Aylsham High School team (L-R): Jack Cleaver, Shaun Taylor, Alex Ridgway, Charlotte Foster & Hazel Needham

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