Monday 15 October 2012
The line-up for this year’s Premier League Enterprise Challenge final is complete after the second semi-final at Newcastle United on Thursday.
Teams from Archbishop Beck Catholic High School, West Hill School and St Michael’s RC School were selected by a panel of judges after making their business presentations at St James' Park.
The schools, representing Liverpool, Manchester City and Middlesbrough respectively, will join those from Norwich City, Tottenham Hotspur and West Bromwich Albion in the prestigious final in London on 13 November.
"The standard of the competition was very high"
West Hill School's Paul Butterworth
"They are overjoyed to have got through," said West Hill School assistant head teacher Paul Butterworth of his students. "They have put the hours in over the last couple of weeks.
"One of them was up at 3am, he couldn't sleep he was that excited. He got to the station at 6.30am when the train was at 7.30am so we knew they were up for it. I'm just glad they put on the performance we knew they could do and didn’t let themselves down.
"The standard of the competition was very high. Each team had original ideas which were what the judges were looking for."
For the last few weeks, the teams of Year 9-11 students have been hard at work researching and formulating ideas to meet the brief, set by Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore, which this year focuses on improving customer service in the areas of purchasing tickets, the welcome at the stadium and buying food and drink on match day.
After coming through regional events to earn the right to represent their club, the teams had to submit detailed summaries of their ideas before presenting a five-minute pitch at the semi-final to a "Dragons' Den" judging panel.
The ideas on Thursday were wide and varied and included the setting up of a family pub, using smartphone apps and the introduction of hawker-style food and drink vendors.
Helena Pinder, Community Manager at Middlesbrough FC, said: "When the students went up on stage they were not nervous, they did not stumble and they answered the questions well.
"It feels good to be in the final and they are very excited. We are all very proud of them. They put in all the effort and they really deserve it."
The judging panel included Newcastle United’s financial director John Irving and Bradley Webster, who was part of the St George’s School team that won last year for Blackpool.
There were also special guests such as former Newcastle United skipper Bobby Moncur, Newcastle North MP Cat McKinnell and Shadow Business, Innovation and Skills Minister Chi Onwurah, who were on hand to listen to the presentations and meet the young entrepreneurs.
"I was so impressed by the young people who were involved with the programme and could see straight away it is a valuable and innovative way of teaching young people to think about business," McKinnell said on her website.
"This is an opportunity that you have got to make the most of"
"I enjoyed having the opportunity to visit the teams before their presentations to discuss the scheme and their ideas. It is fantastic that since its inception, over 79,000 young people have engaged in the programme, and have managed to gain such valuable skills and insight.
"With such worrying levels of youth unemployment, schemes such as this are vitally important in helping young people develop into our business leaders of the future."
Onwurah, the MP for Newcastle Central, told the students that the initiative would play an important role in expanding their horizons for the future.
"What you are experiencing gives you an idea of where you can go with the skills you are developing," she said.
"Activities such as this can give you a real example of where you can go. The most important message I want to get across to you is that you can achieve anything you want to. This is an opportunity that you have got to make the most of."
This is the fourth year of the Premier League Enterprise Challenge, which aims to encourage and develop a variety of business skills including problem-solving, creativity, innovation, team-work and enterprise.
For more information on the Premier League Enterprise Academy and the Enterprise Challenge, please contact Sophie Hukin via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.