Aston Villa football club is teaming up with schools in Birmingham to inspire future entrepreneurs and support budding business brains.
Under a new initiative unveiled yesterday to coincide with Global Enterprise Week, the football club will send its staff out into six Birmingham schools to talk to pupils about the business of sport.
Launching the scheme at Villa Park, Ian Austin, the regional minister for the West Midlands, said: “Anything that encourages young people to think about business and consider careers in enterprise should be encouraged.
“This project provides a real-world example of how a business is run, and I think it is absolutely fantastic.
“When I was younger work experience was a week spent in an office doing the filing, but this is a great opportunity for today’s youngsters to really learn about the importance of business skills.
“We hope to show children that business leaders can be role models too, and give them someone to look up to.”
And the minister said that the perilous financial situation meant entrepreneurial skills were even more necessary.
“We are living through unprecedented times, but we must remain focused on long-term strategic work,” he said. “We need entrepreneurs now more than ever to face the challenges ahead and come out stronger.”
The scheme, which kicks off in January, will see 450 pupils taught about the business of sport from Aston Villa managerial staff.
The project will involve Aston Manor Technology College, Fairfax Business and Enterprise College, Holyhead Business and Enterprise College, Turves Green Girls Technology College, Bordesley Green Girls Business and Enterprise College, and Bournville Business, Enterprise and Music College.
Students aged from 13-15 will learn about marketing, finance and business logistics throughout the ten-week course, and it is hoped that this year’s pilot scheme will blossom into an annual programme.
Duncan Riddle, the club’s head of community, said: “This is a good way for us to engage with the community and teach young people about the business of football. We are sending out people to teach about business - but they will be wearing Aston Villa kit, rather than suits.
“In many respects, a football club is several businesses under one roof, with marketing, financial and administrative sides.“We are committed to football development, education and social inclusion. This scheme is part of our commitment to local people and young fans.”
The project follows on from the success of similar schemes currently running at Middlesbrough and Blackburn Rovers football clubs. Manchester City also launched their programme in September this year.
Students study for an OCR-accredited qualification, taught for two hours a week by footballing staff who visit the schools.
Birmingham’s programme, funded in part by Advantage West Midlands and the Premier League, has received the backing of the government.
Business Secretary Lord Mandelson, said: “Aston Villa’s scheme will have a tremendous impact on the local community and will provide a range of exciting opportunities to help develop the next generation of top entrepreneurs.
“This initiative will help to give young people in Birmingham an understanding of Aston Villa as a business rather than just a football club, and hopefully help them to enjoy learning about enterprise along the way.”