Future Soccer Stars: A social enterprise bringing football to all

From operating a large sports franchise to creating a social enterprise bringing football to all, Dom McNally tells BQ about his start-up story launching Future Soccer Stars.

Future Soccer Stars was founded last year by Andy Japp & Dom McNally with the aim of making football coaching available to every family, irrespective of background or circumstance.

The enterprise works with playgroups, nurseries and groups in the Stirling and Falkirk areas, coaching around 125 children a week.

The duo now want to roll the programme out across Scotland with the help of LaunchMe, focusing on areas of multiple deprivation and providing funded and paid-for coaching to ensure access for all.

Describing the company, Dom told BQ: “Future Soccer Stars delivers world class soccer coaching to families regardless of their ability to pay.

“We work with children from 18 months old in our Little Stars sessions up to children aged 9 who attend our Academy classes. Our focus is on technical development and creating good people.”

Andy and Dom’s vision was to create not only a profitable business, but also something to help make a difference.

Dom said: “I wanted to tackle the social problems I was seeing daily across the UK, I decided to get busy in my own little corner and use football as an engagement tool to connect with some of the harder to reach children and families in my community.

“Some kit, a motivated coach and a hall is all we needed to start changing our community for the better.”

The duo managed to gain the support of Scottish business support programme FirstPort, who provided a small grant to get them off the ground.

Firstport supports start-up social enterprises across Scotland through business support, resources, training and funding.

Speaking about how they gained advice and support, he added:  “We were lucky, I had experience of operating a large sports franchise business and was able to demonstrate how, with support, we could start up and scale our business quickly.

“FirstPort provided a small grant to help us purchase our equipment and combined with our own funds we were able to start trading.

“We have been selected as one of the 7 ambitious social businesses to take part in the LaunchMe programme run by FirstPort where we have secured a larger grant to help scale the project.”

When asked what their biggest challenge had been so far, he said: “Our biggest challenge is always around attitudes and behaviours, not from our coaches or our families but from organisations who often act as a barrier to those they are trying to support.

“I hear the phrases “but the problem with that is” or “we already do that” far too often when in fact there is no problem and they don’t do very much... perhaps we are somehow a threat to the status quo?”

After a year in business, Dom has enjoyed life as a start-up social entrepreneur.

“The best thing about being a start-up is putting your plans into practice and seeing them in action, the worst thing for me is the fear that I might fail, that drives me.”

The idea behind the company is to do more than just teach football, but to teach a healthy lifestyle.

Dom said: “We are not just coaching football for football’s sake, we are using football help get a generation of kids to form the right habits for their lifetime, that’s bigger than football.”

When asked who the firm’s dream costumer would be, Dom said: “We’ve chosen to start in Scotland, and I’d love Brian McClair the SFA’s new performance director to come along with some of his family and friends, I’d like him to watch what we do and think “there’s no reason why every child in Scotland shouldn’t start their sporting and educational journey this way”.

“Lots of our kids, even as young as 2 or 3 are showing real talent, ones for the future I think.”

Having launched in Stirling and Falkirk and been a success, the duo are now eyeing further expansion across the country.

“I have a plan to establish Future Soccer Stars in 6 Scottish regions within a year, if I can do that we should be working with around 7,000 families every week and making a big positive impact.

“We have a progressive and supporting group of MSP’s and MP’s in Scotland and there’s a good feeling about what we can achieve, I’m looking forward to the challenge. “

BQ will continue to follow Dom and Andy’s journey as the duo continue to grow the business across Scotland.

 

In partnership with: Startup Britain