Our SportsBiz Spotlight shines on Bloomsbury Football – a grassroots football charity in London using the power of the beautiful game to improve the lives of young people.
So, tell us about Bloomsbury Football…
Bloomsbury Football is a registered charity using the power of football to change the game for over 5,000 young people a week in London. Our high-quality football sessions positively impact young people’s lives in three ways: they improve mental and physical health, build stronger communities, and teach transferrable life skills.
What does Bloomsbury Football do?
Bloomsbury Football works with young people aged between 18 months and 18 years old from diverse backgrounds in London. Our vision is to create a world in which all young people can access the positive benefits of regular high-quality football training with qualified coaches, regardless of their ability to pay or play.
We provide a range of programmes to ensure that there is something for every young person.
Our Foundation and Academy programmes offer boys and girls at different levels of play the opportunity to train and compete in matches on a weekly basis. The Bears programme is our early years provision for 18 months to 5 years olds starting their footballing journeys early. We supplement P.E. provision in schools or run extracurricular football sessions with our Schools programme.
We are committed to making football an inclusive game for everyone- our Inclusion programme provides specialised sessions for young people living with disabilities. Through our Refugee programme, we’re working with Afghan and Ukrainian refugee communities to provide fun and accessible sessions.
What’s your main purpose?
Bloomsbury Football’s mission is to ensure that every young person can access high-quality football sessions with qualified coaches, regardless of their background.
Bloomsbury was founded in 2018 by Charlie Hyman to tackle the increasing numbers of young people being priced out of play. London is becoming increasingly socially divided and this is being reflected in football at the grassroots level.
Pitch space in London is limited, so prices to rent these are being pushed up. At the same time, young people are becoming less physically active, obesity rates in young people are rising and there is a mental health epidemic. These were all things that were exacerbated by the Covid lockdowns, during which Bloomsbury Football shifted its provision online, running daily virtual football and strength & conditioning sessions.
We believe in the power of football to make young people happier and healthier, and our financial assistance model means that everyone is welcome.
If failure wasn’t a possibility, what would be your biggest ambition?
For Bloomsbury Football, failure isn’t really a consideration – every young person that we are able to support makes what we do worth it.
We believe in the scalability of our financial assistance model, so our long-term goal is to expand Bloomsbury’s sessions to other cities around the UK.
In the shorter term, our goal is to double our impact by the end of 2023. 10,000 young people around London engaging with Bloomsbury Football’s sessions per week- that’s the plan.
What’s unique about Bloomsbury Football?
There is a lot that sets Bloomsbury Football apart from other grassroots football clubs and charities using sport as a vehicle for social change.
Our financial assistance model is probably our most significant USP- the fact that families paying full fees pay slightly more than they would elsewhere which means that other players are able to receive subsidised places, supplemented by money raised by fundraising. It’s a model that’s scalable and that really works – about two-thirds of our players receive some level of financial assistance.
How many people are involved at Bloomsbury Football?
Bloomsbury Football is growing fast, and our team is reflecting that. We currently have 25 full time staff members, some of whom are fully office-based, and some are full-time contracted coaches on pitch. We then have over 50 coaches who do a range of hours on the pitch every week. Recruiting qualified coaches who believe in Bloomsbury Football’s mission and vision is always a priority to ensure that on-pitch provision is at the highest level.
Who do you usually work with?
As a charity, we are lucky to work with some amazing organisations and individuals that support our work and provide the resources so that we can continue to have an impact in our communities.
We are a Nike partner club, and we also run a league in central London with LaLiga. These partnerships mean that we can provide incredible opportunities for our players both on and off the pitch.
The families that make up the Bloomsbury community are our usual ‘clients’. These are the parents and caregivers who support their children to come to Bloomsbury Football’s sessions and the young people who make up our teams. Our community makes us who we are.
If you could work was anyone, who would be your dream person or organisation?
Right now, a focus of ours is finding individuals who are aligned with our mission and who want to support us, acting as ambassadors and championing our work. Having some high-profile people in our industry supporting us would really help in gaining more recognition, resources and reaching more young people!
How can people connect with Bloomsbury Football? What’s your website and socials?
We are currently in the process of levelling up our website, so head over there to learn more about our work and to get involved: www.bloomsburyfootball.com.
Thank you to Bloomsbury Football for sitting down to talk us about their organisation. If you would like to feature your sports based business or know of an organisation you would like to see feature on SportsBiz Spotlight, get in touch.