We’re back with the latest instalment of Industry Insider as we sit down with former professional footballer, Luke Chadwick to talk all about his role as director with The Football Fun Factory!
Tell us about yourself, what is your current role and what roles have you done previously?
My name is Luke Chadwick and I’m a director at The Football Fun Factory, one of the UK’s leading football coaching providers with a philosophy based on fun and life skills. Prior to my role at The Football Fun Factory, I was a professional footballer for 18 years and played for clubs such as Manchester United, Reading, Burnley, West Ham United, Stoke City, Norwich City, MK Dons and Cambridge United.
Upon retiring from professional football, I obtained all of my coaching badges while working in the academy of a professional football club. While a role based at the elite level of football had some incredibly rewarding elements to it, I wanted to help and develop aspiring footballers further down the footballing pyramid and step out of the comfort zone I had grown to be accustomed to as a professional footballer.
This passion to help kids around the country fall in love with the game led me to work alongside my former colleagues within the academy coaching set-up – James Cutting and Jonny Martin – who co-founded Football Fun Factory. And I haven’t looked back since!
What do you do in your current role?
As a director, I’m responsible for the recruitment of new head coaches (franchisees), building strategic relationships to support with our overall growth and delivering fun football sessions. This has been something completely new to me, and on a personal level, it is something I really enjoy as I like doing different things and using the lessons I learned in professional sport, it’s really allowed me to develop as a person.
“Normal” isn’t a thing in sport so what does an “average” week look like for you?
What I love most about what I do is there isn’t really a normal week. I spend a lot of time in calls and meetings, as well as getting out and about to a number of our weekly sessions. I love that variety and meeting new people, talking passionately about our values and ethos to coaches, partners, parents and children. My previous roles have been very structured, so managing my own diary and having opportunity to be creative is something I’m extremely grateful for.
How did you end up where you are right now? When did you know you wanted to work in sport?
The reason I now do what I do is the recognition of what’s important to me. Growing up, I fell in love with football because my early experiences were so much fun and enjoyable. I don’t remember any of the tactical or technical advice I was given at a young age, but what I do remember is how much I loved it and the way coaches made me feel.
Working with The Football Fun Factory is so rewarding as it gives me the opportunity to give something back to the game that gave me so much, play a part in what will hopefully be millions of children playing the game purely for enjoyment and using football as a vehicle to develop positive life skills.
What is your number one focus when it comes to your work?
Breaking down barriers to participation – our goal is to give every child the opportunity to play football regardless of ability or gender. We truly believe every child should have access to brilliant coaches who are there because they love what they’re doing and have the skills to engage and inspire so that every single child has a fantastic experience and develops personally using football.
Can you tell us about a time you failed and what you learned from it?
Returning to my experience in academy coaching, I realised that by not doing what I love, I couldn’t give the best version of myself. I was lucky enough to do something I loved for 18 years as a professional footballer, and that helped me understand that if I’m not truly enjoying my job, I should try something different. That has been a real blessing in my life and has been an important lesson in my life.
What are you excited about in your industry at the moment?
What excites me most is seeing people smiling and enjoying themselves. I love nothing more than seeing children having fun and enjoying playing football with a coach who has such a passion and loves what they’re doing. I’m excited about replicating this across the country and eventually the world with our innovative head coach model. Our head coach scheme offers passionate football coaches the opportunity to work full time in the game by operating their own business in the local community.
Our current head coaches range from level 1 to UEFA A qualifications and all have the ability to engage and inspire children by doing something they love. There is a real lack of opportunities for coaches in football to earn a good living from their craft and a massive reason behind The Football Fun Factory is offering this to the coaching community.
If you could change one thing about your Industry, what would you change?
I would change the age in which children are recruited to professional football clubs. An age cap of 13-years-old would be an encouraging step forward as I believe kids going into academies at seven or eight-years-old is way too young to be having to travel, be competitive and the pressure associated with playing at a club. I believe they should play with their friends, try different sports and have as many experiences as possible in those formative years before going into a talent pathway.
Sport is a hectic industry, what do you do to switch off?
I love spending time with my family because as a professional footballer, the game would always come first. Life as a professional sports person can be very intense and you can neglect those closer to you at times – you are away from home a lot, under pressure to be at your best and to be in peak physical condition. I now have opportunity to be a better husband and Dad and do things I didn’t get a much of an opportunity to do in the past.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to work in the sports industry?
To love what you do, approach every day with energy and enthusiasm and learn from others; but ultimately do things your way. You have to be willing to make mistakes, but always with an open mind and you can’t develop without failures. Human development must always come first – be the best person you can be and opportunities will always come!
Any social links you want to plug?
You can follow Football Fun Factory across these platforms:
We are also delivering sessions all over the country and you can arrange a free three-week here: https://www.thefootballfunfactory.co.uk/freetrial
Thanks for reading our Industry Insider with Luke Chadwick! If you want to read more from the series, you can do so by clicking here.