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Craig Douglas: 'I coach my daughter's football team'

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Architect Craig Douglas on the business methodology of starting a girls’ football club

A few years ago I started taking my son to play for a local football club in Stoke Newington. My daughter started to come along to kick the ball around with me while my son was training and we copied the training routines that my son was doing.

Soon, a few of my daughter’s friends started coming with us and the group has grown to about 20 girls aged four to nine who come every Sunday to train and play football. As numbers have grown two other dads have started coaching with me.

We didn’t prepare a business case or SWOT analysis when we started out but it is worth looking at the club through a business manager’s eyes:

Discrimination in the workplace
Making it all-girls attracted criticism – one parent called it ‘upside-down sexism’, another called it unnecessary positive discrimination. One passer-by said she had a ‘bee in her bonnet’ about separating girls and boys at play. I still don’t know what the correct response to these comments might be.

Business development
Growing slowly, organically and by word of mouth has allowed us to keep the atmosphere and direction the way that we want it.

Financial management 
We don’t charge for the coaching sessions. We could, but it would change the way we feel about it and about what is expected from us. Does this sound too much like an architect’s business plan?

Business merger and succession planning 
We are slowly joining together with my son’s club and the process of the merger is interesting. As part of the merger, I had to train to become an FA-licensed coach. I am now obliged to take part in coaching CPD courses.

Office politics
It has been said that what we are doing is the embodiment of David Cameron’s Big Society, but as that has now dropped off the political agenda, we wonder if we should do something else. For now though, the next step for the club is to bring a few young coaches into the club – and to find some opposition to play against.

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