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The Journey so far – By Luke Chadwick

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The journey of the Football Fun Factory has been quite a remarkable one to date, and despite all that has so far happened we are still really in our infancy. It’s hard to believe that it’s over 6 years ago now that James launched the programmes in Red Lodge, a small village in Suffolk, to what it has now become. We now have more than 80 Head Coaches delivering our truly unique football programmes all over the UK.

When James founded the FFF back in 2017 there were no plans of it becoming a franchise organisation, it was just James running his programmes as one man band in a few villages in Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, and having a huge amount of success doing so. Not just in a business sense but also in the hugely positive effect he was having with children and their families within his local community.

That’s when the idea of scaling the business came along and he decided the most effective way of doing that would be to franchise, to work with other passionate football coaches to have the same positive impact in their own local communities. The first person to join the team was Jonny who came on board with James as co-founder of the Football Fun Factory. James and Jonny worked together for a number of years at a professional football club and were in charge of all the provisions for children at the club, from community programmes to development centres, and worked incredibly effectively together.

The original plan was for Jonny to run FFF programmes for a year to see if the business model could be replicated but things as they tend to do at The Football Fun Factory moved a lot quicker, and within weeks myself and Kiel joined the team and the franchise was born. Jonny, Kiel and I set up our communities in areas that we lived around Cambridgeshire and a vision had turned into a reality!

It was a really exciting time, with us all incorporating our businesses as proud franchise owners. There was a real buzz in our local communities and we got off to a flying start in terms of participation in our programmes. But then we had a bump in the road, and it was a rather large bump called Covid-19 which of course threw up massive challenges for us as it did for more or less everyone around the world. But we’ve had a mantra at the FFF since our inception of turning every challenge into an opportunity, and that’s what we did! During lockdown we spent every hour God sent into working on the franchise, the processes and details required to put us in a position to grow once the world returned to some sort of normality. We also spoke to football coaches about our opportunity, loads of them and a lot of interest in it was created.

Amazingly when we came out of lockdown we had grown from a team of 4 to a team of 12 Head Coaches and now had the company operating in the surrounding counties of Norfolk and Suffolk. During the past 3 and a half years the growth has been exponential with over 70 more Head Coaches coming onboard to drive the business forward and create opportunities for tens of thousands of children to enjoy our unique football experiences in a pressure free environment.

The passion for what we want to achieve has never waivered and the why has always sat above anything else, and the why is quite simple to make football fun and use the game as a vehicle to develop positive life skills just as much as football skills. Of course there have been challenges along the way but the opportunity these have created have been vast. We have had some brilliant highlights of winning The Best Business Serving Football award at the Football Business Awards, we’ve secured a partnership with Center Parcs, which sees our programmes delivered there on a daily basis. But without doubt the biggest highlight is the fantastic people who have joined our team as superstar Head Coaches and the positive impact they are having in their communities.

It has been a memorable journey so far but like I mentioned at the beginning the most exciting thing is that it’s only just beginning!

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