Future-proofing Ignite Sport UK

An interview with founder, Justin Merritt, on combining sport with digital development and fundraising.

21st June 2019

Ignite Sport UK are passionate about inspiring people to participate in physical activity. Running unique programmes for children throughout the South of England and offering a range of qualifications for aspiring trainers and coaches, they’ve also partnered with leading teams like Oxford City FC to promote community spirit. In the evolving technological world, they’ve spotted a way to strengthen their business over the long-term by creating digital resources, such as online courses.

Ignite are currently half-way through their second round of funding with Crowd2Fund, having previously raised £75,000, and now seeking £110,000. Director, Justin Merritt spoke to us about his business propositions and how they’re adapting their services in a technology-orientated world.

What was your inspiration for starting your enterprise?

Sport has always played a huge part in my life through a variety of roles as a participant, coach, manager, educator and fan. Ignite was formed to encourage participation, remove barriers and create a safe fun environment. Whether it’s at a specialist sports club, training camp or a young participants first time trying out, a positive experience is essential. Sport and physical activity have undoubted health benefits for participation, but also there are social and psychological benefits such as making lifelong friends, developing teamwork and communication– our aim is to simply ‘Ignite’ a passion for sport, unlocking these benefits and many others.

What are some of your proudest achievements so far?

We’re hugely proud of our strong history of delivering high quality sessions. Early highlights include when we became a registered training provider and achieved our first delivery contract in schools. We’re pleased to have delivered flexible coach education programmes to meet the needs of a large number of coaches, teachers and students.

Another milestone was when we were able to extend this beyond the UK and have inspired thousands of children to participate in sport globally. We celebrated our 20th birthday in April this year, and are proud to have successfully delivered on our partnerships for this time, including our sustained 15 years with Activate Learning.

What do you see in the future for your business and industry?

I think the future for our business and industry will be shaped around providing a flexible and more accessible product for our customers. Technology is playing a very active part in sport already, across many sectors through performance analysis, medical screening and media. In reaction to this, we’re developing our own simple-to-use programmes and workshops to support coach education.

What steps are you taking to grow your business to the next level?

We’re also recruiting for new roles to provide additional mentoring and leadership within the company. As a business, we are developing a more strategic approach to planning and goal setting whilst implementing an enterprise leadership model within the organisation. This will enable staff to understand our aims and contribute in creative ways.

We recognise modern life requires a blended approach to training and development, so we’re developing products to support teachers, coaches and apprentices digitally. This will include easily accessible coach education courses and a toolkit of coaching resources.

Why did you choose Crowd2Fund? And how will the current raise benefit you?

We’ve been impressed with the relationship and support provided by Crowd2Fund and would recommend highly. It feels like we are working with shareholders due to the connection with our investors via questions or just through seeing who has contributed, providing additional motivation for us to succeed.

With our current raise, we will be continuing the development of Ignite Sport UK nationally with the development of flexible and  accessible digital courses and workshops as well as recruitment of key staff. The aim is ultimately to deliver a structured approach and improve knowledge, confidence and effectiveness of coaching across a range of sports.

You can view Ignite’s campaign page and invest here: https://www.crowd2fund.com/campaign/ignite-sport-uk-limited/sports-education-through-range-of-programmes-and-football-connections

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