Hammers win PL Enterprise Challenge

A team of pupils representing West Ham United have won the Premier League Enterprise Challenge Final 2014. Managed by West Ham United Community Sports Trust and delivered by WHU inspire Learning Centre, the Hammers cohort triumphed over groups representing Arsenal, Bolton Wanderers, Crystal Palace, Middlesbrough and Sunderland.  

The students from Stepney Green Maths, Computing & Science College, brought together through their involvement in the Community Sports Trust's Premier League Kicks programme, triumphed over 450 other groups representing Premier League Enterprise Academies by taking the honours in the Final, which took place at the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) headquarters in Westminster on Wednesday.

Over 3,000 young people took part in the Enterprise Challenge in 2013/14, which required groups representing their local football club to put forward a team of five to make a "Dragon's Den" style pitch. They delivered eight minute presentations with their ideas on how football clubs could better engage international fans, followed by a question and answer session with a panel of judges made up of Peta Bistany (Planning and Projects Director, Premier League) Steven Coates (CEO ICT Refurbishment, UK Entrepreneur of the Year 2013), David Dinsmore (Editor, The Sun), Mike Keoghan (Director of Vocational Education, BIS) and Graeme Le Saux (former Premier League and England defender).

The Enterprise Challenge Final, now in its fifth year, is one of the highlights of Premier League Enterprise Academy (PLEA), a BIS supported initiative which is all about engaging young people aged 11-19 years old in the enterprise agenda so that they understand the basic principles of business and self-employment through a range of interactive learning opportunities.

The West Ham students were presented with the Enterprise Challenge trophy by Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore and Graeme Le Saux. In addition to the trophy, the pupils from Stepney Green Maths, Computing & Science College will be rewarded with a "money can't buy experience" which includes a Q&A meeting with  Scudamore, a visit to 10 Downing Street to meet with Lord Young, the Prime Minister's Enterprise Advisor, as well as an iPad for each of them, contributed by OCR RAS Examinations.

Premier League Chief Executive, Richard Scudamore, said: "After five years, the Premier League Enterprise Challenge is now an established highlight of the Premier League season. It provides a genuine and unique opportunity for all those involved to use their local football club's marketing model to explore and enhance their understanding of how the industry works and apply their new skills in an exciting business environment. The Enterprise Challenge arms all those who participate with new skills like presenting, planning and problem solving."

Lord Young said: "The Premier League is one of the great British success stories at home and abroad, so it is fitting that our next generation of entrepreneurs has come forward in their thousands to take part in the Premier League Enterprise Challenge Final, sharing their own ideas with some of the biggest names in sport and business.

"The UK continues to be one of the best places in the world to start up a new firm and I hope that these business-minded young people have learned the basics of enterprise that one day will help them to set up their own company if they want to. I thoroughly look forward to meeting them all when they come to 10 Downing Street in the next few months."

Skills and Enterprise Minister Matthew Hancock said: "Few are better placed than the Premier League to inspire young people in the wonders of enterprise - and use football to help kids of all backgrounds reach their potential. I pay tribute to their work in this area and I'd like to congratulate the West Ham team on their strong business proposal and hope more young people are inspired to consider running a business as a career choice."

The Enterprise Academy gives young people a unique understanding into the running of professional football clubs and sees them learn by using real business examples drawn from their club. Departmental heads from areas of the club such as marketing, customer services, catering, communications and HR deliver sessions and offer behind the scenes tours to provide insight into how they work within their organisation.

Participants work towards nationally recognised qualifications with courses facilitated by dedicated Premier League Enterprise project staff in partnership with teachers and youth workers. There are now 21 clubs running PLEA who have engaged over 79,000 young people since 2008, with a 92% success rate for those completing the course.

This year, the Challenge, which is set by Richard Scudamore, was:

The Barclays Premier League is the most watched league in the world, broadcast to 804million homes in 212 territories.

You are a Premier League Club Marketing Director and your Board wants you to explore ways in which to attract new fans and develop new revenue streams from rapidly growing international markets.

Your Club already has well developed strategies for the UK market and prospects for further growth look more promising overseas. You have been asked to formulate plans to increase your international following and income streams, specifically from Africa and the USA.

Develop fully-costed plans to engage a growing fan base from these two regions.

The proposal should cover:

How your Club could attract more fans to travel to the UK to experience a match live at your stadium

How your Club could engage fans in these regions via the Club's digital channels, taking into consideration different time zones in relation to when matches are played

How you could use your Club's assets to generate interest and enthusiasm in these target countries

You will need to take account of the varying cultures, demographics and economics of Africa and the USA when formulating your ideas.

The Board at your Club is prepared to invest in the initiative, but will want to see a return on their investment over a number of years. Your Business Plan should make clear what the scale and the expected return on the investment should be.

The groups were judged on their presentations and business plans. The judges thought the standard of this year's Challenge was the highest ever.