Twenty-three schools from across the greater Belfast area came together recently at La Mon Hotel to take part in the final stage of the Irish FA’s enterprise programme.
Now in its second year, the ground breaking three year 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.
This year’s programme is funded by the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL), run by the Irish FA and sponsored by Invest Northern Ireland.
Over the last few months, in addition to developing and creating a Northern Ireland branded product; the pupils have received a number of enterprise and football related workshops on sales, marketing, manufacturing and business administration.
Pupils from the 23 schools presented their products and business plans on production and distribution.
They pitched these to six dragons from the world of business and marketing in a Dragons Den situation – Tracey Campbell, Irish FA Commercial Manager; Olive Hill, Invest NI’s Director of Innovation and Technology Solutions; Alice Quinn, NCBC CEO; Jill Crawford, BITC Director; Stephen Downey, Outsider Games and Elaine McKeown, Secure Ring.
After a day of excellent presentations, the six dragons had to select one winner and after some discussions everyone agreed that the pupils from Lagan College Belfast should receive the overall award. The team from Lagan College designed Bright Buddy and will now receive a grant to produce and sell 100 of the winning products in their school for school funds.
“This innovative programme provides an opportunity to educate young people on enterprise and business in a fun and exciting way using the medium of football,” said Geoff Wilson, former Head of Marketing and Communications at the Irish FA. “This is the second year of a three year project and the feedback we have received from both pupils and teachers during the first two years has been fantastic. Eleven schools took part in the first year of the programme; with 23 schools taking part in the second year and the Irish FA is looking forward to continuing to work with DCAL and Invest Northern Ireland in year three.”
Olive Hill, Invest NI Director of Innovation and Technology said: “We are delighted to support this programme which introduces young people to the idea of entrepreneurship. The experience offers young people a platform to develop their enterprise skills and gain valuable insights into running a business. Important skills that will enhance their chances of success and in turn add value to the economic landscape in Northern Ireland. I was really impressed by the hard work the young people had put into the projects and their confidence and enthusiasm.”
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 programme has been made possible due to the generous support of the NI Executive through the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure through the ‘Promoting Equality, Tackling Poverty and Social Exclusion through Sport’ programme.
The schools who took part in the Irish FA’s enterprise programme were:
Ballyclare Secondary School; Bangor Academy and Sixth Form College; Belfast Boys’ Model School; Belfast Model School for Girls; Carrickfergus College; Downshire School; Dunclug College; Dundonald High School; Edmund Rice College; Fort Hill College; Knockbreda High School; Lagan College; Little Flower Girls’ School; Monkstown Community School; Nendrum College; Newtownabbey Community High School; Priory College; Shimna Integrated College; St Colmcille’s High School; St Louise’s Comprehensive College; St Patrick’s Academy; St Rose’s Dominican College and Strangford College.