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21 March, 2022 - 15:12 By Tony Quested

Awards glory the goal for Football Fun Factory

The broad church that is the Business Weekly Awards has just got broader with an entry from The Football Fun Factory, established in Bury St Edmunds but operating across the UK.

The quality of the venture was further boosted by the decision of former Cambridge and Manchester United player Luke Chadwick to help build the business as a director. Now it is aiming for global success. The organisation also helps hundreds of disadvantaged children who would otherwise not have the opportunity to participate in football or sporting activities as a result of socio-economic barriers which may exist. 

As Business Weekly Awards assessors are finding out, this is a genuinely unique children’s football coaching franchise aiming at an impressive goal – to become the world’s leading children’s football coaching organisation. Its stated mission is to make football fun, for everyone, by creating experiences that children and their families want to be a part of. 

The Football Fun Factory offers weekly training programmes for 2-12 year olds, school holiday camps, birthday parties and other events for boys and girls.

The company was formed by James Cutting in 2017 and began franchising in 2019 when Jonny Martin teamed up with his former Cambridge United FC colleague. 

The duo drew up an ambitious blueprint for Jonny to pilot a franchise for 12 months to prove the model ahead of a nationwide rollout, but within a year The Football Fun Factory had grown to a team of 12 head coaches – effectively creating various franchisees.

Now 29 months into its journey the venture has 45 franchises across the UK  and has ambitious growth plans to reach a 100-franchise milestone in the next 12 months. 

Cutting says that despite these apparently audacious growth targets, “the quality of the experience remains our number one focus.

“Our unique business model, where the franchisee is the main deliverer of the programmes, keeps the bar extremely high.

“Last year our aim was to double in size from 15 to 30 franchises and operate nationally. We exceeded these targets by onboarding 30 new franchises in 12 months, including communities in Scotland and Wales. Now we are targeting international growth.”

The Football Fun Factory delivered sessions to 8,000 children in 2021, even though its activities were suspended for three months (January-March) because of the national coronavirus lockdown. 

The network of head coaches/franchisees delivered more than 15,000 hours of football fun through weekly training programmes, school holiday camps, parties and events.

In the summer holidays and at Christmas, the Football Fun Factory provided opportunities for more than 1,000 children in receipt of benefits-related Free Schools Meals to attend school holiday camps free of charge as part of the Government-funded Holiday Activity and Food Programme. 

Research has shown that the school holidays can be pressure points for some families. For some children this can lead to a holiday experience gap, with children from low-income households less likely to have access to organised out-of-school activities and more likely to experience ‘unhealthy holidays’ in terms of nutrition and physical health in addition to social isolation.

As part of this pitch – pardon the pun – The Football Fun Factory has successfully partnered with local councils across the country to offer more than 5,000 hours of fun football-related physical activities and a healthy meal, meeting the school meal standards.

Cutting adds: “Within grassroots and community football, millions of children play the game across the country. However there are numerous barriers to entry, which means some children and families cannot access the sport. 

“The Football Fun Factory solves this problem and caters for beginners as well as children who already play for grassroots clubs and even within academies or elite pathways. 

“Our head coaches are specially trained to accommodate and successfully train a range of ages and abilities. Our coaching ethos revolves around encouraging both physical and personal development. 

“Sessions are not about rewarding natural ability or talent – instead they focus on personal enjoyment and the development of a love for the sport, which helps to create a positive relationship with football throughout life, from an early age.”

Luke Chadwick joined the leadership team at Football Fun Factory in 2019 as a director. As a young boy he dreamed of running out at Old Trafford, a dream he later accomplished as a professional footballer. However, the pressure of being a professional and everything revolving around winning created an environment that took its toll. 

His own personal experiences within professional football have served to reinforce the franchise’s approach and ensure its coaches place the emphasis on fun and enjoyment over technical development and progression. 

Every new joiner receives a free, three-week trial period with no obligation to sign up at the end, to ensure they are fully comfortable and enjoy the experience. 

In its bid to further develop the female game nationally and inspire more young girls to get into football the FFF has now recruited six female head coaches across the UK. At an FFF camp in Hertfordshire recently, half of the youngsters were female.

Cutting adds: “As the Football Fun Factory grows we are determined to do so sustainably. We continue to refine our business model to enable our franchisees to become more emotionally and financially successful as time goes on. 

“We are on a mission to be the best in the world at what we do and believe that we can achieve this aim as part of our current ambitious and exciting five-year plan.”

• The quality of service offered by The Football Fun Factory is demonstrated by five-star Trustpilot reviews Visit: uk.trustpilot.com/review/thefootballfunfactory.co.uk 

You can find out more about the sessions available locally for your child, or learn more about the franchise opportunity by visiting https://www.thefootballfunfactory.co.uk/

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