Last week it also picked up a prestigious award for a programme aimed at making the most of the power of sport in educating leaders of tomorrow.
the Irish FA’s Enterprise programme has now completed two years of a three year cycle and the ‘Game Changer’ award granted by the Northern Ireland Chartered Institute of Marketing praised it as “providing a very different, truly unique and innovative social project. A game changer indeed, a new way to engage young people and introduce them to business and marketing using football.”
The project is aimed at 15-16 year-olds and uses football to engage students on key business and enterprise awareness, from innovation and product design, to sales and marketing, to physically developing prototypes for the programme.
In January of this year it brought together 23 schools on a programme that consisted of a series of enterprise and football related workshops on sales, marketing, manufacturing and business administration. Six of the schools then went on to compete in a Dragon’s Den style pitch process.
Funded by the UK Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure and Invest Northern Ireland the programme brings the study of business to life through an association with the sport. Given that the global sports industry is worth an estimated €400 Billion, it is a connection that is very valid, and one which is being brought to life in a variety of third level courses across the country from Sligo to Tralee and Waterford to Athlone as well as in the major Universities.
Bringing it to life at secondary level in a structured fashion is unique though to Northern Ireland. “The feedback we have received from both pupils and teachers during the first two years has been fantastic,” said Geoff Wilson, former Head of Marketing and Communications with the IFA.
“We nearly doubled the number of schools taking part from year one to year two and are pleased to be involved in a programme which provides an opportunity to educate young people on enterprise and business in a fun and exciting way using the medium of football.”
“We are introducing young people to the idea of entrepreneurship,” added Olive Hill, Invest NI Director of Innovation and Technology.
“The experience offers young people a platform to develop their enterprise skills and gain valuable insights into running a business. These are important skills that will enhance their chances of success and in turn add value to the economic landscape in Northern Ireland.”
Lagan College teacher Claire Murphy said: “The Irish FA Enterprise Challenge was a great experience for the pupils and the project delivery from eye4education was second to none. The students developed their presentation and teamwork skills and raised self confidence in their abilities to deliver on the big stage. The real world context allowed the pupils to develop a great understanding of product development, economics and business concepts. The pupils thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience.”
The funding in Northern Ireland came through a specific programme designed to promote equality, tackle poverty and address social exclusion through sport. A similar pilot scheme in the Republic could be a novel way to integrate sport, business and education in a manner that will make a difference.
Contact Sport for Business today if you would like to learn more about the work we do in education and our Academic Membership benefits for colleges and students.