My Start-Up: Sports First Academy - Jamie Whittle (Founder)
Sport - an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment. Well, that is the general definition, but for Jamie Whittle and his team at Sports First Academy, it is a way of life. Combining his love of sport and childrens' enthusiasm to play, Jamie formed this company to do what he truly loves.
We got Jamie's thoughts for this month's start-up feature story. Here's what happened,
1. Tell us more about Sports First Academy, how did you come up with the idea?
I had been working in football and sports development for over 12 years, picking up qualifications along the way. Some of them are the UEFA B in football and my key stage 1 and 2 in active development for PE.
While dedicating myself to football I also had the opportunity to extend and develop my experience and coaching skills to basketball,cricket, athletics, hockey and rugby. Most recently, I worked for a sports company where I was their football development officer in Dorset and Hampshire. This role enabled me to develop relationships with schools and clubs within the area and to create an excellent program for children to grow as players as well as young students. I also worked with primary schools conducting PPA sessions for all age groups as well as taking sessions with their teachers. This was to better equip them for their own PE lessons (CPD sessions).
Having had the this experience, we decided that the companies were missing a beat when it came to a personal relationship with schools and clubs. We decided to start our own company and create a much more personal relationship with the schools and clubs we were approaching. So far every school that has come on board has grown from having Sports First Academy run simple sessions to in depth PE development sessions. A combination of high quality coaching and an emphasis on personal relationships has enabled Sports First Academy to grow faster than I expected.
2. What is the goal behind this venture? Surely it can't be just to run a successful business, what you're doing has a direct impact on people's well being.
Being a massive sports fanatic myself, I have always taken great pleasure in passing on my enthusiasm to the kids or anyone else that would listen.
Enabling myself to coach full time was always the end goal. Spending a lot of my previous coaching years picking and scrounging for hours in the industry that I loved, forced me to find another way to support myself - and do what I love. This formed a guiding principle in setting up the academy, glad that it keeps people fit!
3. Are the programs predominantly targeted at children? What type of adult training programs do you run, if none, are there any planned for the future?
There is very little that we currently run for adults as our main target area is within ages 5-16. Perhaps in the future we will look at developing programs for adults.
4. As a business owner, what are the biggest opportunities and challenges that Bournemouth presents in your opinion?
As a whole: Bournemouth is a fantastic area for outdoor activities and sport. This is a huge advantage to the company and along with the general push for our children to be fitter, it has become a great spot to start up our company.
5. This is a different take of a usual question - if you were to change one thing about your entrepreneurial journey what would it be?
I would have done it a lot earlier. I always believed that I would be happy to be in a regular 9-5 job, taking a wage and being secure in that. Starting my own business has been the most exciting and self motivating process I have ever been through. I would recommend it to anyone and everyone.
Here's how to contact Jamie,