Becca Todd

Enterprise success stories

Becca Todd

What do you study at the University of Exeter?

Sports & Exercise Science.

What is your business all about?

Futbolistas Girls’ Football Coaching gives girls the opportunity to have fun playing football, whilst improving their skills & making new friends, in a supportive and engaging environment on our football camps.

We then donate a large proportion of the proceeds from each camp to support a charity in Ghana; KickStart Ghana- which give people in a community called Ho, the chance to achieve their potential through the means of education and sport.

We have recently started coordinating charity football tournaments in which we give all the funds raised to various charities in Africa.

The idea is that everyone’s feet can change the world!!

(www.futbolistasfootballcoaching.com)

What is your business’s unique selling point (USP)? What is your main form of advertising? Who are your main competitors?

Well I wouldn’t say I was really competing that much- as I’m not out there to become a millionaire!

I wouldn’t even say Futbolistas is really a business! But I guess our “competitors” would be other sports coaching companies- and the things that make us unique are that we just coach girls (sexist I guess, sorry, but girls often don’t seem to get as many opportunities in football) and mainly that we are not coaching to make vast profits; we are trying to raise funds and awareness for amazing charities in Africa.

Our main advertising is our website (it’s pretty!) and just me telling people about it!

Where did your idea come from? What is the start-up story behind your business?

Futbolistas initially started with a couple of friends back when I was at school in March 2008. We were trying to think of creative and innovative ideas for our coaching session, to make them more fun for the kids!

Then we decided to actually make our own coaching camps, so that we had the freedom to run the camps as we liked and tailor them for the players, so that everyone was happy!

It all got tied together when I went to Ghana with the University’s Community Action group in 2010... I was blown away by the incredible experience helping out in the local orphanages, schools and clubs. It was one of those “life-changing experiences” that are so clichéd in gap year magazines etc! Easily the best thing I have done in my university life.

The players in Ghana are so dedicated, passionate & hardworking, despite having nothing like the opportunities, facilities & equipment that we are so privileged to have. The children in the orphanage were buzzing, inspiring and full of joy everyday- we could all learn so much from their happy outlook on life!

So I tried to think of a way of giving a sustainable donation every few months to support such a worthwhile charity- and so, the concept of Futbolistas was created!

Juggling your academic studies with your new business as well as still having a social life must be a challenge. How do you accommodate the three and what does an average day, if you have one, look like for you?

It’s true; I don’t relax or sleep much!! Ha ha!

Well I guess you can do all 5 things (uni work, coaching job, sport, social life & business stuff) as long as you do them in a kind of balance.

It’s probably actually easier to get stuff done when you have loads on, as, for example, if there’s only a 20min slot to finish an essay in between surfing and coaching, you pretty much have to do it then-no procrastination permitted!

I don’t really have an average day. But in a week: Monday, Tuesday & Thursday I would do mainly uni stuff, sports training & coaching. Wednesdays is football day. The weekends (including Friday of course!) is for fun stuff like being at the beach!

Futbolistas stuff gets done when everyone else is asleep! There’s no time in the day so you just have to make the “day” longer! Ha ha.

What things helped you learn how to run a new business? Has there been anything or anyone in particular that has helped you along the way?

My Dad has been the main person who’s helped me. I am REALLY rubbish (as my housemates will vouch for!) at all things technical! So my Dad helped with all the website stuff etc- which was invaluable. (Thanks Dad!)

Also my friend who I started it up with when we were 18 has his own coaching company too- so he really helped me to see that it was possible if you have the passion for it!

But clearly the biggest inspiration are the kids and players out in Ghana. (As cheesy as that sounds!!)

What support have you received from the University?

The University gave me one of the Floella Benjamin Awards last year which really helped financially in buying coaching equipment etc. It’s pretty hard to get started on a “Sainsbury’s-Basics-baked-beans” kind of budget! So I would like to say thanks to the University for the funding- it was really handy! Doing the Floella Benjamin Award application also helped me to plan & consolidate my ideas, and to work on a budget and an action plan to make Futbolistas happen! 

What do you think has been your key to success so far?

Um, well I think it’s probably a bit arrogant for me to say that I have been successful already, as I’ve only just started!!

But I think the key to becoming successful in the future; is to do something that you love, and something that you believe can make a difference.

And then to give it all your passion and enthusiasm!! -(even the rubbish bits like cleaning muddy changing rooms!)

Have you made any mistakes along the way? Is so, what have you learnt from these? And further, if you could go back in time, are there any things that you would change or would do differently?

I am sure that I have made LOTS of mistakes along the way, and some I probably haven’t even realised yet!!

Yes, every camp I do, I see bits that we can tweak and improve for the next camp; just little things like... the fact that girls love the pink footballs best (so bulk order these!), in Ireland it really can rain ALL day (so have games prepared that you can do in a very cramped changing room!) and don’t try to run a camp on the last weekend of Christmas shopping in Exeter, as you’ll end up with more coaches than kids!!

If I could go back in time I would have partnered up with someone sensible, logical and organised who loved finances and computers! (i.e. not like me at all!) That would have been great; then they could have done all the boring bits!

What can we look forward to in terms of your business? Have you got any future plans for it?

Yes, I have lots of plans and blue sky thinking out of the box and all that jazz!!

My idea is that I will set up links across the world for players and coaches to share ideas and play matches together. United by football. I know the players in Ghana (even the U10’s!) can outskill me any day!

In the future I am going to run camps all over the world, to give girls everywhere the best possible chance to enjoy their football, and to inspire and encourage them to stay involved, whilst making a difference to others at the same time! A win-win situation! (I think!)

How about yourself? Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years?

Happy on a beach I hope! With someone very nice! Ha ha (sorry, I will give you a more professional answer now!)...

I guess you can’t plan too far ahead, as you don’t even know what is going to happen tomorrow...

But in 5years time I would like to have learnt more, seen a lot more of the world (I caught the travel bug really strongly!) and played & coached sport with loads more people.

Over the next 10 years I would like to work for sports charities across the world to get lots more experience (and to have fun!) ,and hopefully learn from working alongside experienced coaches and teachers.

I reckon I can achieve my goals for Futbolistas in the next decade...and after that- who knows??!! (Maybe I’ll actually relax one day...!)

What advice do you have for other University of Exeter students who are looking to start their own business?

I am probably not the best person to ask about business advice!

All I can suggest that you do something that you love! And don’t expect world domination overnight!! -(There will be lots of mindmaps drawn, emails sent, leaflets designed, footballs pumped, silly games played, and airmiles accumulated first)... but it will all be worth it!!