Welcome back to Industry Insider by Behind Sport. Former professional footballer, Marvin Sordell is the latest guest in our Industry Insider series as he tells us all about his transition from playing football to building his own company.
Tell us about yourself, what is your current role and what roles have you done previously?
I’m a former professional football player, with my heights including playing in the Premier League, for Team GB at London 2012 Olympic Games and England at Under 20 & Under 21 level. I’m currently a producer, writer, public speaker, mental health advocate and entrepreneur.
I’m the co-founder of a production company (Oneighty Productions), an influencer marketing agency for footballers (Swoop Social), and founder of a learning and networking platform that is designed to help football players with the process of retirement (Transition FC).
What do you do in your current role?
I do a lot of different things to be honest, but my general day to day mostly consists meetings, conversations and creating ideas/pitches. My three businesses have a fair amount of areas that they crossover in, so I don’t feel like I have to do much more than just think and talk essentially.
Beyond that, I try to spend as much time as I can searching for information that I think may be beneficial to any of the above companies. Articles, stories, trends, personalities, other businesses. Whatever I think may be relevant and potentially interesting.
When I’m in the pre production stage or on a shoot though, that ordinarily takes precedent over everything.
What does a normal week look like for you?
I always start my week by checking my calendar and seeing what meetings I have, or current ongoing projects and planning everything else around that.
Every day for me is about edging those businesses forward little by little. Whether it’s getting on the radar of someone new, creating a new idea for a project, or just absorbing more useful information.
My mornings and evenings are dominated by my two kids, getting them ready and taking them to nursery and then picking them up and getting them fed and bed.
How did you end up where you are right now? When did you know you wanted to work in sport?
It just happened to be honest. I’ve loved football my entire life and through the playing career I was able to have and the connections I made, it was only natural that I would continue to work in this industry in some capacity.
What’s been the biggest challenge transitioning from your playing career to your career now?
Aside from the obvious (Covid), it’s been having to remain persistent and patient. Fortunately, this isn’t something I find too difficult as it’s what I had to become accustom to on my journey towards becoming being a football player. I’ve tried to apply as many of those lessons to my new path.
What’s been your favourite moment whilst working in sports?
I would have to say creating and producing the advert for England for World Mental Health Day 2020. We were less than a year old as a production company at the time so to even be in the initial conversation was amazing for us, but then to win the pitch over some very experienced companies showed how quickly we’d made progress. Shooting the ad and then seeing the response when it was released was just incredible!
What do you think is next for your industry?
There will be a huge increase in both purpose driven content and cross collaborations. Particularly with music, fashion and gaming. In general, people deeply care about important social issues, and their interests aren’t linear either.
Do you have any advice for professional football players considering retirement and moving to a new career?
I’d tell them to begin exploring options as soon as possible, and start to tailor their personal brand towards the space they want to operate in. As the saying goes, dress for the job you want, not the job you have.
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to work in the sports industry?
I’d say to be friendly, open minded and persistent. The sporting world is one where things can change extremely quickly, and working relationships can play a very important role in your trajectory.
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Thanks for reading our Industry Insider with Marvin Sordell! If you want to read more from the series, you can do so by clicking here.