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The Global Local Sports Club

Interview with Michael Wallace, Co-founder


BARRY HEARN Chairman Matchroom Sports Today’s and Tomorrow’s Heroes

Fair play and Fairtrade go hand-in-hand

Bala Sports REAL

The Power of One. Boxing Gear from a Boxer’s POV

Manya Klempner Rathbone Boxing Club, London

March 2020

From the trading floor to the fighting ring

To feature in our next great issue of sportsider email us

Contents Editors Note..................................................................................................................... 4 Sport Tech NEWS..................................................................................................... 6 Barry Hearn Chairman of matchroom sport............................ 8 KickOff@3 The Real Score...........................................................................14 Rathbone Boxing Club....................................................................................18 Extreme............................................................................................................................. 21 Sport Tours Italia...................................................................................................24 Gateley Legal.............................................................................................................29 STRI Group.................................................................................................................... 32 Real The Power of One...................................................................................36 Bala Sport......................................................................................................................40

Editors Note Sport has a way of bringing people together unlike anything else in the world. There are renowned stories of British and German soldiers during the First World War putting down their weapons and enjoying a game of football together. And, throughout recorded history, from the most advanced civilisations seen today to the most primitive tribes of the past, we see that sport was played, enjoyed and in some cases worshipped. There are many reasons that we can try to uncover as to why humans have always enjoyed playing and participating in games, but ultimately it falls to the same thing. It is an intrinsic and wonderful part of being human. #Sportsider is a representation of this. Highlighting the magnificent people and businesses involved in the sports community around the world. Written by sport lovers for sport lovers our monthly publication aims to be insightful, entertaining and engaging. Showcasing what goes into the sporting industry to keep the wheels turning. So, a couple of things to mention so that we can establish our core values and beliefs. As the publishers of #Sportsider, we promise to set ourselves the highest editorial standard, to actively fight against any sort of inequality in the world, be it race, gender, orientation or health. We will always promote health and wellbeing and seek to bring communities together. We will approach everything with an open and transparent quality and will find the best ways to engage with our audience.

Above all else, we will always uphold the spirit of sport in the highest esteem and act as its ambassador whenever and wherever we can.

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FOUNDER XAN VARMUZA At its core, Sportside is aimed at bringing people together to enjoy sport. The idea was originated while I was travelling for work in a foreign country and wanted to find someone to play tennis with. This simple idea uncovered a big question that many people who enjoy playing sports have asked: ‘Why isn’t there an easy way to find someone to play socially with?’ The vision of a convenient, selection based app for social sports people was born, and we named it Sportside. My first entrepreneurial dive into the tech world the idea was officially launched in 2016 and has since grown to incorporate a dozen of the most talented and inspired people who have a handson influence on the development and growth of the Sportside App. Our cutting edge, digital publication #Sportsider is part of that growth and offers a platform for professional and amateur sports people alike to find new venues, new equipment suppliers, the latest information and new heroes.

Love sport, love to connect. Love life and enjoy!

How having a kick around can change communities for the better. Article on page

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Sport Tech NEWS technology in sport. It may be controversial when making refereeing decisions on the pitch, but tech used behind the scenes to monitor performance has proved vital in the personal development of players and overall team strategies. Players also seem to be more accommodating about on-the-field tech in their thinking. “Technology is making players play in a different way,” was one survey response.

Do you like tech in sport? With the Six Nations rugby union tournament under way, leading online tech retailer Ebuyer has conducted a survey to see what fans really think about the use of technology on the pitch. For pro-techs and traditionalist alike, the results make fascinating reading and could surprise you. Whereas rugby seems to have its house in order with on-field tech, other sports continue to have problems. For example, football fans have been critical of the VAR system which was introduced to make decisions accurate and illuminate cheating, but it seems that not many people like the idea of those decisions coming down to a millimetre! POLLING Nevertheless, despite the negativity surrounding VAR, the Ebuyer poll found that over 71% of people thought technology in sport was a positive move. Of those polled, 35% thought technology was slowing the game down, with teams losing flow as they wait for refereeing decisions. According to 27% of the replies, the wait ‘dampens the atmosphere’ of the game, INTERESTING POINTS The survey did however throw up some interesting points about the influence of *Ebuyer conducted a survey of 1000 customers.

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The majority of replies tended to agree that technology was improving fairness with most people wanting teams to start on a level-playing field. While, 19% of people thought human error actually contributed to the drama of sport.

“It seems there will always be opposition to new technologies,” says Ebuyer E-Commerce Director Andy Roberts, “It’s almost the fear of the unknown. But in time, people do get used to things, and the technology will be fine-tuned. A couple of years from now, we’ll probably wonder what all the fuss was about.” THE BAD OLD DAYS A popular poll response was that technology is making sport too clinical. However, despite all the criticisms, most people were reluctant to go back to the ‘old days’ when bad decisions and human error had the impact of teams being relegated and managers being sacked. One person said, “bad decisions create bad atmosphere and volatility in the stands, which is not good for the family experience.” When football goal line technology was first introduced in 2013, there were similar concerns, but now it is accepted as making the game fairer. Cricket, tennis, athletics and major US sports basketball and [American] football have been using cutting-edge technology for years and the processes have been streamlined and accepted. It may be unemotional, but it’s honest.

videos and gaming graphics. With research identifying cost, accessibility and lack of confidence as key barriers to entry for physical activity for low-socioeconomic groups, the lyrics and ad copy have been crafted to confront these commonly experienced concerns, in order to resonate with and drive maximal engagement from the target audience.

Time to Leap In! launch “LEAP IN”. Sported Foundation and WePlay throw down a challenge to young inactive adults to sign-up to community club activities across the UK Leading sport for development charity Sported appoint WePlay as their digital agency to drive awareness of, and attendance at UK community clubs.

Senior Campaign Manager at WePlay, Stephanie Green said, “Based on our audience analysis it was clear that video gaming and current music were passion points we needed to encompass. We wanted to ensure that the campaign video could be a standalone piece of content that our audience would not only resonate with but want to engage with and share. Producing a track and stylised music video which conveyed the campaign message and contained gaming references ticked all of the boxes and we are really happy with the result.”

Research demonstrates that people in lower socio-economic groups are much more likely to be inactive, i.e. do less than 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a week, with children from the poorest families 3 times more likely not to participate in any extra-curricular activities compared to those from wealthier families.

The hero campaign will be activated across multiple social platforms throughout participating regions of the UK, utilising specific audience targeting in order to reach more sedentary individuals. Bespoke creative and granular postcode targeting will ensure awareness of individual club initiatives in relevant neighbourhoods, and subsequently, achieve the campaign objective of event registrations and club attendance.

In a new initiative, leading sport for development charity Sported have appointed WePlay as their digital agency to conceive and execute a pilot marketing campaign to drive attendances to community clubs amongst 16-25 year olds in lower socio-economic areas across the UK.

The three-week campaign launched on February 17th and aims to demonstrate how the power of social media advertising can help clubs achieve their attendance objectives, with a view to the project being rolled out across the UK to all of the 2,600 community clubs that Sported supports.

Launching this week, the campaign which has been entitled “LEAP IN”, will support a selection of the 2,600 UK wide Sported partner community clubs, calling local community members to use their extra leap day in 2020 wisely and try something new.

Nicola Walker, CEO at Sported said: “It is exciting to be using social media to drive participation from this user group. We hope by sign posting young adults in deprived areas to community groups already in existence we can overcome some of the barriers to participation and see activity levels increase. Having WePlay as a partner has been invaluable to the process of curating the right message/creative and targeting the correct audience.”

Using insights derived from the analysis of target audience consumption habits, WePlay have conceived the campaign idea which features spoken word and rap lyricist Emmanuel Speaks, and draws upon inspiration from trending music

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Barry Hearn Chairman of matchroom sport Today’s and tomorrows heroes Barry hearn speaks about the value of sport and what it will take to find the champions of tomorrow. Interview by donnie rust

Having shaped the way that the world watches sport and pioneered the global stage for a number of sporting arenas, Barry Hearn the Founder and Chairman of Matchroom Sports (Matchroom.com), is without a doubt one of the foremost authorities on the business of sport and media in sport. I was pleased to have the chance to speak with him regarding the relationship between the two and as always, left the conversation with a better perspective and a deeper understanding. The smooth talking, eloquent gentleman who is always prepared with the perfect sentence or the funniest story is a great Voice in the sporting industry. As #Sportsider places a great deal of value into the aspirational quality of sports, I asked Barry what he believed was the real power of sport. Barry: There is no question that sport is capable as an activity to unite a nation, it doesn’t have boundaries and is not fixed dependent on race, religion or gender, as it is an encompassing area that unites communities both local and national. Nothing quite unites England as the Rugby World Cup, football games or the Olympics. For a moment all of our differences are set aside both socially and financially and we unite as one people following our heroes. This has been one of the fundamental factors of being human and has survived for thousands of years. Sport has enormous value much deeper than a game. Is everything being done to increase this value? Barry: Governments are letting sport down in my eyes, in the UK and globally. The value and the power of sport to create and help is far greater than the power of warfare. So, why don’t we spend as much money on sport as we do on defence? Sport shapes a country and inspires young and old while defence protects the character that we’ve developed through that sport. Just imagine what a world would look like where governments

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put as much money into supporting sporting activities across the board instead of into the military. Barry, who has seen the growth of the sport media empire grow and has been instrumental in planting many of those seeds in the first place, has seen a great deal of things over his years, especially on how we consume sport today. Barry: Sport has such a strong influence on people that it is often at the very bleeding edge of consumer technology. It is and has always been changing. Different generations have different priorities and within those generations those priorities are always shifting with new trends. Today we don’t have the same principle as watching TV from a sofa, what is happening today is the younger and millennial market is in fact wanting to watch sport when they want to watch it on whatever device. In gaming, in terms of industry, that same philosophy is extended to sport where they are consuming sport on tablets and phone. This is a fundamental shift in how we watch our sport and from a commercial point of view impacts how we promote it too. As one of the leaders of the industry who has also seen his own son take the mantle and run with it, what is the trick to keeping up with these sweeping trends? Barry: Firstly, we have to accept that it isn’t a sweeping trend. Sweeping implies it might come back on itself, and things only move in one direction. We focus on younger markets and the customer experience, and this is purely a media technique in terms of identifying and hitting the right target market. You can see how fast things change and the change has been accelerating for decades. Colour TV changed it, then sports cable, then subscription services such as ESPN or Sky,

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now we’re seeing the third change which is the digital revolution being led by subscription based buffets of entertainment like Netflix. This in turn puts focus on the need to target to an audience and move quickly. We’ve seen huge growth where we listen much more to the market place and you just can’t get complacent. We look for changing trends in customer spending and viewing habits and take action. It makes sense that viewership habits need to be the main influencer for how sport is published and promoted. What have these habits changed about sport away from the screen, or device? Barry: There is a growing spectator level, but the participation level is falling. The younger market is stepping away from sport as they seek faster and instant gratification. Very traditional sports like cricket and tennis and golf are under pressure. Still massively popular and huge industries but enjoying less participation. Less people playing it and more people watching it. On one side we have an obligation to participation in sport and the other side a younger market that are unlikely to spend too much time on a particular activity. Again, the younger generation want to get good right away and if they can’t develop impressive skills quickly, they move on. This group of viewers focus for less and want instant delivery of entertainment. Sports like darts can be enjoyed by all levels because to get good you just put up a dart board and throw a dart at it for a couple of minutes or hours a day. But sports like golf and cricket take time and focus to get good, and a lot of failure. This doesn’t mean that these sports aren’t still popular, but the participation is dropping so we have to wonder where the next great heroes are going to be found, and will they be of the same standard that came before? If they’re not, the sport isn’t going to survive. Our heroes need to keep impressing us.

pick up a sporting implement. The professional industry, the businesses behind sport and sporting heroes, will be the ones to implement this change. And what about from a media stand point? As the outlet of sport to the world what are Barry’s responsibilities when it comes to finding the new heroes? Barry: We have twelve different sports that we promote. Part of our job is to evaluate a sport financially and commercially and creatively which we learn from data and survey analysis. Our business is to know our business. You play at sport we don’t play at business. We are targeted to what ticks boxes. For example, we ask: Is this sport attracting attention? Is it making money? And, is it inspiring people? Additionally, we judge ourselves on prize money funds because money talks. We can’t ask a kid to focus his or her life for a sport and provide a level of entertainment unless we give them the rewards for those levels. We run a money orientated business and our ratings, and the customer experience have to be high to get that money in. Ultimately, our principle obligation is to make opportunity more available at a greater level to inspire people to play and make the sacrifices needed to be great. To fuel an aspirational society that wants to be part of it. To do this well, the industry needs to look at how to build character in young people, general population and country. Sports and academics needs to be looked at. Children need proper education and proper sporting opportunities and facilities so that they can live the dreams and develop healthy bodies and clear minds.

Is this something that can be changed or remedied?

Barry’s influence with Matchroom Sports brought darts, snooker, fishing and boxing to the foreground and made them incredibly commercially viable sports for professionals and businesses. What are the future sports that we should keep an eye out for?

Barry: We need to find a way to ride this wave of pivotal change in sport, where there is less participation and more selective viewership and yet still the same passion that drives people to

Barry: Darts are becoming massively global. One of the reasons for this is because there are no barriers for entry. There are no expensive clubs and no expensive equipment and whether you

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play as an amateur in a pub or as a professional in an arena… you both start at the same place. A dartboard on a wall. Thanks to our hard work, snooker is expanding fast into South East Asia and American pool continues to grow. American pool is a sport to keep an eye out for in the future for the same reason as darts, you can play socially for minutes to hours and it provides excellent TV entertainment. It’s the same with ping-pong, a game that is played by 400 million people on all levels! We need to find out where the champions of these sports are, create heroes and create commercial opportunities for them. Too many sports are run by “blazers” who don’t care about the earning power of athletes and are only interested in the longevity of their sport. This is admirable in one sense, but it does come at the expense of the athlete. The commercial value of the players and athletes participating need to be exploited better. For example, the Olympics, highly prestigious, but a tiny portion of the money made goes to the athletes participating and even if you hit the podium, you can’t eat a medal. Eddie Hearn, Barry’s son, has been instrumental in changing the look of professional boxing today. It briefly went into a period where there were few great heroes with great stories that could light up the ring on a global stage. Anthony Joshua has brought that sort of greatness to the ring again and Barry sees this as more than just a financial win for the industry. Barry: Eddie has a great aptitude for working the media well to highlight not only the fighting prowess of the likes of Anthony Joshua, but also his back story. He was a bad kid from the streets who turned his life around and he is relatable and likeable. He sounds friendly, engaging and intelligent when he speaks on interviews and doesn’t come across as arrogant or aggressive. He’s a friendly, polite, good looking guy who is an ace at sports and Eddie has made sure that this story has hit the media. This obviously has a good financial value, but it also plants the seed for others wanting to change their lives, to prepare, study your art, put in the work and be the best you can be. That’s the real value, because it’s

where we will find the heroes of tomorrow’s ring. It’s also more than simply sport. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that being a professional sportsman or sportswoman is still a business and the two are no different. You have to put in the work, you have to know your industry. What can be done to improve the viewership, participation and growth of commercial opportunities in woman sports? Barry: You have to look at it in a pragmatic way so you mustn’t be too PC friendly about it because the answer is “women should be doing more for women’s sport”. There are many very famous and commercially successful sportswomen in the world who have done a great deal to level the playing field within their chosen sports. The question is not whether the genders are equal in ability, the question is why certain women sports do not offer the same commercial level as certain men sports. This is why we cannot be PC about it, because we have to live in the real world and the real world is all about commercial exploitation. When you look at it as a numbers game, those driving these women’s sports need to apply themselves and find or create these commercial opportunities or move to where they exist. We cannot forget that while in England footballers are paid millions per game, they play against teams from other countries where the players still need to have full time jobs to make ends meet. Achieve, entertain and excel, make sure that everything you do is being administered with a commercial and not just a participant angle. Don’t expect favours because of political correctness because taking the holy ground, without taking into account commercial consideration does not earn viewership. Remember, somewhere someone has to pay. Generally speaking, women’s sport is developing at a fast rate and broadcasting is keen on it. When we get involved in woman’s sports it is because it makes commercial sense. In ten years it’ll look entirely different than today. Ratings, sponsor happiness and tickets sold. Numbers don’t lie and you have to know your ratings.

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There are many celebrities who are global influencers who don’t have a very good or upstanding message to send to their fans. Are modern athletes taking their positions as role models and ambassadors for positive change seriously? Barry: Today’s professionals understand the role they have to play and their platform they speak from. Today they are better media trained and aware of the commercial benefits of it, I think that it’s one case where they’ve made a massive improvement with their fans. Aided by social media they can become inspirational figures to their own age, gender and race group in a more effective way than ever Eddie understands the digital age that we’re living in and he knows how to speak from the platform and create media stories. That’s how we communicate with our target market. What he has done in boxing in six years eclipses what I did in forty. Barry’s extraordinary career has continued to grow despite changes and austerity thanks to his reliance on knowing the facts and figures of his business. As such he has a very clear idea of some of the challenges that the sporting industry is facing. Barry: The government is not doing enough for sport. We are living in an age of austerity which would seem to be the right time to invest in sport but we’re not. Of course, the government will still play lip service though. We win the World Cup and within a day the team is invited to Downing Street, yet in the last ten years 50% of local cricket clubs have gone out of business because of a lack of support. You can’t play lip service, we can’t cherry pick occasions. We’re investing in sport on a commercial basis and governments are not. In the long run we become a nation of spectators and less a nation of participation. From a political and a media perspective sport always works for governments and they need to invest in this asset and not just live off it. Sport is not a one night stand. www.matchroomsport.com

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On one side we have an obligation to participation in sport and the other side a younger market that are unlikely to spend too much time on a particular activity. Again, the younger generation want to get good right away and if they can’t develop impressive skills quickly, they move on.

Article on page

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KickOff@3 The Real Score How having a kick around can change communities for the better. Interviewee: Michael Wallace By donnie rust

sport and their desire to improve communities being very much aligned, KickOff@3 was an idea that fit perfectly. “I grew up in an era of challenges as a Windrush baby of Jamaican immigrants to Britain,” Michael explains, “I lived in Lambeth Borough and experienced first-hand the conflicts of inequality and how communities can be defined by their postcodes.” A community project aimed at not only providing opportunities through sport for young people around the UK, but also creating bridges between communities and the authorities that protect them, KickOff@3 has been an invaluable tool of creating change since its start in 2017. Founded by Michael Wallace and Ashley Levien, both likeminded sports enthusiasts with a passion for football, the main goal was to be a cause for change. Coming from similar backgrounds, they wanted to ensure that young people from every community were able to have the opportunities that they did not. THE MISSION Strong advocates for equality, the pair of them have dedicated themselves to this mission not only within the initiative but outside of it as well. Michael is a community engagement officer for the police and Ashley is a London bus driver who is and has very involved in many worthwhile community focussed projects. “Sport has a unique ability to bring communities together,” Michael says, “KickOff@3 has in the last couple of years broken down barriers, created friendships and opened doors, irrespective of race, gender or postcode.” Michael and Ashley have been friends for coming on eight years now and with their passion for their

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Speaking with Michael, who has been with the police for twelve years now, it’s clear that he is a man with his feet firmly on the ground. Jovial and very likeable he joined the police in his mid-thirties and says that he was equipped with a range of tools that he could apply in his role. “I was able to make use of life skills and community knowledge to build bridges in various communities,” he says, “Creating real change and our initiatives have become a part of this.” MILESTONES A major part of the initiative is to build trust and relationships between the police and the community. With this in mind it is a source of pride for Michael and Ashley that they have young people contact them who want to be involved in the initiative and do their part. “It proves that we are making a difference,” he says. Michael has seen how the smallest thing can have the biggest impact on a young person’s life. How a supportive comment on someone’s performance or idea can create an upward spiral of positive thinking that can have huge results later on in life. And, KickOff@3 certainly does provide big opportunities, as demonstrated when one of the players involved in the charity tournaments was spotted and signed for a professional contract in Wimbledon.

“The tournaments attract a lot of undiscovered talent and thanks to this it attracts a lot of scouts as well,” Michael says, “But we are just as proud of every opportunity we create for young people to be magnificent.” For example, a student from Durham university used their initiative for his dissertation and was awarded top marks. And, another player from the 2018 finale, chose to go on the blood stem register and last year came back as a match for a family. He is a young 18 year old from Durham and is now on the register with the potential to save someone’s life! “Football may be the catalyst,” he says, “But playing that is the easy part. It is the engagement, the relationship building, the charity work and the helping young people realise just how much of an impact they can have in the world. That is the real focus.” BREAKING BARRIERS One of the things that Michael and Ashley believe that KickOff@3 is very good at is breaking down barriers and changing preconceived ideas and stereotypes. Discrimination can come in many forms, for example being overlooked. Michael’s son has autism and as such he has seen how many of these events do not actively invite children with disabilities because they think they cannot participate.

whatever form should not be tolerated.” FOOTBALL AND BASKETBALL Michael is first to admit that, as a football fan who grew up in a family of footballers, he did not realise how popular basketball was in the UK. He is quite candid about this, “As kids we grew up kicking a ball around and my brother Adam Wallace went on to play professionally in Belgium then went on to play in The Far East and Ireland and represented Jamaica at National under twenty three. We didn’t really play basketball much.” However, it was very clear that the same impact could be had with basketball and KickOff@3 now has a sister version named TipOff@3 and uses the same template. Summer Madness UK is a partnership where the two work well together. Part of this success is because kids today are very seldomly one or the other and are often exposed to a variety of different sports to play with their friends.

“Sport is open to everyone, regardless of disability, gender, race or orientation,” he says, “Everyone should feel welcomed to play and inequality in

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“The only problem is that in the UK basketball is not seen as much as football and does not have the same size of support,” he says, “But the thing for us is that they both give us the chance to offer a strong community edge that are not unnecessarily competitive.”

“We owe a great deal to them as they supported us from the start when Ashley and I were just having ideas,” Michael says,“They saw the potential and went with it and they were there from the start.”

Many mainstream events can become very competitive, but Michael and Ashley’s ethos is very much about staying community minded. Michael reveals that before every tournament they hold a minute silence for all those that have been lost to knife and gun crime around the country. This vigil is held both for the football and basketball events and sets the focus on the community and reminds everyone how important it is to stick together.

2020 In an exclusive sneak peek for #Sportsider, Michael reveals that over the next few months they are going to be running twenty three tournaments in fourteen parts of the country. These will be run by the police forces and aimed at the 13 and 16 year old age group. The winners will then represent their police force in the national final on Sunday the 28th June which is no doubt going to be an epic event!



It is a sad fact that postcodes can still create prejudice and conflict between people. According to Michael, this demonstrates the real value of these initiatives even more. Even when there is an automatic edge that can be very competitive, initiatives like KickOff@3 gives them the opportunity to break that barrier straight away.

As these initiatives have been bootstrapped from the start, with the planning, organising and execution all taking place in their own time, Michael is very grateful for the support and commitment from partners and organisations willing to believe in it.

“We have no postcodes here,” he says. SUPPORT Two of the key organisations that supported KickOff@3 from the first were the Metropolitan Black Police Association, who support officers and staff of colour and a have a vigorous community focus and the Royal Airforce who are a symbol of team work and cooperation in Britain.

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“What we are doing counts,” he says, “It is important, and it nurtures positive change in the hearts and minds of young people. It’s a legacy that we want to be able to pass on and grow and is something we will always be proud of.” www.kickoffat3.co.uk

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Rathbone Boxing Club From the trading floor to the fighting ring Interview with Manya Klempner What happens in a ring between two opponents is one small part of what goes into the sport of boxing. The physical, emotional and mental development that boxing training offers, which have demonstrative benefits to everyday life and wellbeing, creates a value far beyond merely exchanging blows in the ring until one person is left standing. We caught up with Manya Klempner, founder and operator of Rathbone Boxing Club in London England and found out what motivated her to set up a boxing gym in London’s heavyweight quarter. Manya, who is a former investment banker, explains that she had a baby in 2013 and started training with Greg White to lose the pregnancy weight that she had gained. “I didn’t seek Greg out for his boxing expertise, but it was serendipity that he was a great boxing coach,” she says, “In no small way, it has really changed my life. Greg was my first coach, and he is now Head Coach at Rathbone Boxing Club. Together we have crafted this vision.” THE CLUB Rathbone Boxing Club officially opened its doors on the 3rd June 2019, but it was a long time in the making. Manya explains that the idea was born in late 2015 and getting to where they are today was a journey fraught with ups and downs, trials

and tribulations, small victories yet even bigger challenges. “In line with boxing itself, not every step was forward, sometimes for each one forward there were two steps back,” she admits, “But ultimately, we got there. As Ali said, ‘Every champion was once a contender who refused to give up.’’ This rough start did allow for a lot of fine tuning along the way and despite the pain, it was all worth it. Not bad, considering that the main motivation was that Manya just wanted to have a place to train. Historically, boxing was a working-class sport, and in turn, most real boxing gyms were situated on council estates. They were non-profit

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organisations, amateur boxing clubs, run by volunteers, and in large part, these ABCs focused on keeping boys and men off the streets. As boxing has moved up the socioeconomic curve, the infrastructure has not kept up. Manya explains that she had the choice of travelling to an ABC or going to a boxercise studio class. ABCs can be intimidating to the uninitiated; they are often on the outskirts of town and inconvenient to those who work/live in Central London. Also, although the culture and training are usually excellent, the amenities are typically poor if existent at all. And, because they are run by volunteers, hours are erratic, customer service is not a priority, modern conveniences like credit card payments and online bookings are a pipe dream. On the flip side, “boxing studios” in Central London aren’t real boxing gyms. They are fitness studios that offer boxercise, a tepid, watered down substitute. “We saw a gap in the market and decided to hit it hard,” she said. GETTING HOOKED Manya explains that the allure of boxing is that it is indeed a sport. “That’s what makes it sticky. It’s called the boxing bug – you get hooked. Learning new skills and progressing are rewarding

experiences, and if you’re going to box, you want to box at a real boxing gym.” “Rathbone Boxing Club is definitely a proper boxing gym and we understand our market,” she says. “We offer an authentic training experience, curated by esteemed professional trainer Adam Booth; we also provide the customer experience that the discerning client requires. We have lovely locker rooms, and our toiletries smell divine. We bridge the gap between the old school boxing gym and the boutique fitness customer experience.” CUSTOMER FEEDBACK Manya built a career as a banker. Flying in the face of the norms to pursue a dream and idea is always a risk, nonetheless. Considering that the gym has only been open since July 2019, the responses and reviews have been very promising. “We nailed it,” she says. “We regularly get comments like ‘Where have you been until now? I’ve been waiting for you!’ Also, ‘Thank you for opening. You’ve changed my life.’ Or, ‘I’ve been boxing for months, and I learned more at my first session at Rathbone than I had in all those months prior.’ It’s immensely gratifying.”

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COMMUNITY ELEMENT Boxing has a history of social impact. Rathbone Boxing Club honours that tradition by hosting the Rathbone ABC Squad, which is a non-profit organisation run by volunteers, with Rachel Bower as our Head Coach of RABC. As long as members are committed to boxing and wish to come, everyone is welcomed. All contestants are split into Juniors (ages five to seventeen) and Seniors (eighteen and above). “Giving RABC a home enables us to offer a premium service at spit and sawdust rates to those in the community who would be excluded by price,” Manya explains. “Members of the community have been very supportive. For example, we are sponsored by YOYO Wallet, which is based around the corner, and Chris Mawe, a regular patron, has personally donated a generous amount to support the RABC too.” She goes on to reveal that they are working on bringing boxing into the local schools; there are heaps of physical and mental benefits from which school aged children would benefit. And, they are also partnering with charities to support their work where mental health is just one of their priorities. BUSINESS HURDLES Even though the public’s opinion of boxing has improved by leaps and bounds, boxing still suffers from some naysayers. There are some that believe that boxing is violent, and while there are some inherent risks at the very top levels, athletes at the peak of many sports are subject to the same risks. Meanwhile, especially at the recreational level, boxing is not violent. The main mantra is “hit and don’t get hit” - the priority is learning defence. Furthermore, boxing is noncontact until onewishes to progress to sparring, and even sparring, particularly at Rathbone Boxing Club, is very technical and controlled. It’s about practicing your skills and more importantly tactics, head movement, footwork and breathing. Boxing is a science, not brawling. “We believe the physical and mental benefits one derives from boxing far outweigh the risks,” she says.

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From a physical perspective, you will never be fitter. Mentally, boxing empowers, calms and focuses the mind. It is ultimately a form of mindfulness that is active instead of meditative. The community you become a part of is just icing on the cake but developing a “box fam” is undeniably one of Manya’s favourite parts. PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT Manya believes that we can only improve by challenging ourselves and that we become a product of our environment. Constantly inspired by her team and her “box fam” she finds every day presents the opportunity to be better than she was yesterday. “Opportunities to better oneself seem more readily available when you’re surrounded by the right people,” she says. In particular, I respect “people who are honest, sincere with integrity and human decency.” 2020 After coming up the curve in 2019, Rathbone Boxing Club have really hit their stride in 2020 and are going to continue to perfect their training and customer experience. As they get busier and busier, they’ll also be growing their team. They may even start scoping out a second location later on this year.

Stay tuned. ADDRESS: The Gaslight Building, 29 - 35 Rathbone Street, London, W1T 1NJ T:  +44 (0)20 3973 0044 M: +44 (0)7889 708 560 W: www.rathboneboxingclub.com E: manya@rathboneboxingclub.com Insta: @rathboneboxing

Extreme Sports media coverage for the fans

For millions of adrenaline-sport fans, Extreme has been a mainstay of their entertainment consumption since the mid 1990s. Originally founded by Alistair Gosling as a TV channel which went live to sixty different countries and 50 million homes, the business has since evolved and developed with the times. The management of the TV channel was sold and while they own the brand it is run by Liberty Media, and as a business now, Extreme have several areas that they focus on including media and marketing, events, destinations and licensing. #Sportsider caught up with social media manager Tom Ovenden who’s department handles media and marketing, content creation, event management and everything social and digital. A self-confessed fan of the channel, Tom explains that he has been with the company for almost a year and that it’s fantasy come true, “I’ve been hooked on extreme sports and the channel from a young age,” he says, “So when I got the chance

to get involved and work for them I jumped at it.” With a background in digital and social media and having worked across all marketing functions, Tom has a position that allows him to keep his fingers to the pulse of the sporting world. Particularly to see the waves of trends and the tastes of people. Part of his role is to use this information to create workable social media strategies that will engage a brand new generation of fans to the extreme sports. An active participant himself Tom likes to believe that he is a good allrounder who has tried his hand at several different sorts, although according to him, he cannot claim to be good on a skateboard! “Part of the role that Extreme has always played is to get more people included in playing sports,” he says, “And we are working with a number of very exciting projects in very exciting destinations to help do just this.”

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2020 This year, Extreme are working across multiple developments and projects as part of the Saudi Arabian government’s 2030 vision to create gigacities. These are in essence a response from their government to multiple societal challenges including limited entertainment options, demographic and social change, as well as the need for more careers in a world beyond oil and public health. As such, this forms part of Saudi Arabia’s pioneering plan to create completely sustainable cities from scratch. Extreme are working with them to help build top of the line extreme sports facilities and currently a lot of Tom’s team mates are out there full time with this project. It isn’t the only one happening in the kingdom that they are involved with, Extreme recently were working on the Dakar Rally in Saudi, including helping run the event. “Internally there are a lot of projects happening too,” he says, “We are launching podcasts and vlog casts with original content and looking into creating more original productions.” Today the way in which viewers consume their media has changed, especially for fans of adrenaline fuelled sports and activities, both those who watch it for entertainment and those who use it as a source of inspiration. With the swap from the big screen to the smallest screen in 2019, Extreme created four new Tv style series with the Facebook Platform. COMMUNITY A lot of the Saudi Arabia projects are aimed at encouraging community with initiatives and activations, currently Extreme are involved in working a series of those and it has been very positive. Their core belief is to build and facilitate and drive the adoption of Extreme. POPULAR SPORTS Tom reveals that there are a lot of popular sports in Saudi Arabia and, thanks to their facilitating approach to the creation of grounds and locations, there are some unique, niche sports that have become popular too.

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“Motorsport has always been popular,” he says, referencing the almost symbiotic relationship extreme sports has with anything with an engine, “But we have some niche stuff as well like sand boarding, climbing and the resurgence of BMX. Also, they have a real love for dramatic aerial sports like skydiving and base jumping.” BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS “It is very important to break down barriers and change the way people think,” Tom explains, “Extreme sports is no longer a young person’s game. Age, gender and orientation mean nothing when you’re giving it your all and getting that rush of adrenaline.” According to him, extreme sports is more about character. There is a certain kind of character that is attracted to high adrenaline and intensity sports. Now, as longevity of health has improved, and people are active much longer, age now is just a number as long as you love that rush. “There are a lot of grandparents out there right now who are wilder than their grandkids,” Tom points out. STAFF Amazingly, the Extreme team is not huge. Across the globe they employ around thirty five people, but they can scale up and down depending on projects and needs. What Tom has noticed the most is that getting things done requires a dynamic team and a strong core of team mates and being able to rely on everyone being target driven.

“Wanting to be part of that team is a big part of it,” Tom relates, “And that is down to environment, leadership and a passion for what you’re doing.”

and essentially put women big wave surfing on the map. Tom however says that the subject of inequality has never really been one that, as a company, Extreme has felt the need to shout about.


“As a company we’ve always focussed on the value of the sports and the activities,” he says, “Over twenty five years we’ve been essentially gender neutral. It has always been the position we’ve kept and so we don’t feel the need to shout about what we’ve been doing because we’ve always done it.”

One of the Facebook TV series last year was entitled Beauty and the Beast, and each episode followed a female big wave surfer. Surfing may have washed away the line between men and women in the sport, but traditionally Big Wave Surfing was considered a male dominated area. This series helped change that. It was an eight part series focussing on different athletes on how they overcame gender inequality,

After all, it’s all about the sport. www.extremesportscompany.com/

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Sport Tours Italia Rugby Tours for Rugby Fans Sport Tours Italia was conceived and founded in 2017 offering rugby tours around Italy for fans and Worldwide Rugby Tours came about 18 months later to focus on non-Italian business. A brilliant combination of travel and sport this inventive approach will no doubt perk the ears of many an avid rugby fan. Founded by Chris Heald, who has lived and worked in Italy since 2003 and has been a player, coach and club general manager of rugby since 2007. It was an answer to some of the areas within the game that he saw were in glaring need of development. “I felt I knew the rugby landscape pretty well but had noticed that there was nobody providing a service to rugby fans to watch or play out of the country,” he says, “And it seemed that Italian supporters seemed to only watch the Six Nations as spectators. So, they were missing out on the vast amount of top class rugby that exists year round all over the world.” Deciding to create a business that centred on Rugby, Chris explains that there are numerous businesses that offer sports tour travel and have a menu of events on offer that is very similar to their own. Some of these companies are very well established but they all deal with other sports as well whereas his business is very specific. “We are run by rugby people for rugby people.” He says. PASSIONATE RUGGERS Chris, now in his mid-fifties has been involved in rugby consistently since the age of seven either as a player, coach, manager or, since 2017, with these businesses. His business partner is a 42 x capped former Italy scrum half and the other staff are a rugby player, a fanatical rugby supporter and someone whose spare time is spent photographing rugby.

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“There are always business concerns,” he says, “Like austerity, Brexit and the rising costs of everything. But when you’re passionate about something you love and work with a team with a similar mindset you always find a way.” THE FIELD Both businesses can essentially be broken down into 4 key categories covering the field of rugby tours. These include: Spectator Tours: Six Nations, Premiership Final, Champions & Challenge Cup Finals, Pro 14 Final, HSBC World 7’s Series (Hong Kong, Dubai, Cape Town & Las Vegas), Rugby World Cup, British & Irish Lions. These tend to be (depending on location) either a 2 night hotel package with official match tickets or, for the long haul a 6 or 7 night package with accommodation, official match/tournament tickets and a range of sightseeing tours. Clients are encouraged to be self-managed on these trips,

but Chris and his team do offer a fully managed trip for bigger groups and also tend to have a dinner the night before the match with former international players participating in a Q&A. End of Season Tours: Worldwide Rugby Tours offer tours to all of the continents around the world. South America is dominated by Argentina/Uruguay/Chile while North America is broader. Europe tends to focus on Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, but other countries do feature. Africa is largely centred around South Africa and Namibia, but they are also currently developing links with Cameroon

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and have done a little charity work on their behalf as well in the provision of kit. Asia focusses on Thailand and Australasia Australia & NZ. The tours are always be managed by a dual language Tour Manager on the ground and will include transport, accommodation, matches and activities to suit the age and specific requirements of the team. The tours are available for Club Teams, Schools and Military Regiments/Units Tournaments: These tend to be 7’s and 10’s tournaments and we are lucky to be continually asked work with various tournaments around the world on team entries. However, they tend to focus on 3. Roma 7’s, Dubai 7’s and Rugby Barbados World 7’s. They make all of the arrangements for the teams entry into the tournament and their travel, transport and accommodation arrangements. Teams tend to be fully autonomous at the tournaments, but they do offer a 24/7 telephone support service. Pre-Season Training Camps: Italy, Spain, France and Portugal are the 4 countries that we offer training camps.

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They tend to be 7 days in duration with 5 days training and 2 days at either end for travel. The facilities that are used are first class and used throughout the year by professional rugby teams. “Everything is taken care of,” he says, “Right down to the availability of ice for the post session ice baths!” PROJECTS As far as projects are concerned there are a few main ones that they have been working on offering including, tours to the HSBC World 7’s Series in Hong Kong, Italy tour to Argentina, Lions tour to South Africa and the Rugby World Cup 2023 in France. CHALLENGES The greatest challenge in Italy has been, and continues to be, a changing of mentality. Primarily in planning and booking early, particularly for things like the 6 Nations Championship! Chris still gets multiple enquiries the week before the tournament starts for matches that technically sold out months earlier. In addition to that it is the age-old issue of the new kid on the block coming up against the well established players in the game. There is a market for everyone, and Chris is confident that the

placement of their prices, their levels of customer service and the fact that they are specialised will attract the rugby fans to give them a try. STAFF Chris explains that they are a small team of four people who are actively involved in the day to day management of the business. His business partner operates in more of an Ambassadorial role. Staff training tends to be in house and focussed on customer service and updating on what is happening in the world of rugby, the countries that they offer trips to and any tournaments they might want to work with. 2020 “We are going to keep offering great packages and experiences to rugby lovers who want to explore the wonderful sport that rugby is,” Chris says in relation to their plans for 2020, “We are working very closely with a South African Tour company in building towards the Lions tour to South Africa in 2021 and are very excited about the prospects of that.”

WHAT DOES SPORTING SPIRIT MEAN TO YOU? According to Chris, each person will be motivated by different things and will have different dreams and goals, so trying to help people to be the very best version of themselves has to be done at an individual level. There is no magic bullet. “That having been said there are certain traits that a leader should use to give others the very best chance to achieve whatever they are aiming for,” he says, “At the very core of this is caring. You must care about the other person. Find out everything you can about them. Only then can you fully empathise and know the right way to motivate and inspire them to push themselves to improve.” T: 00 39 333 7647167 00 44 (0)7956 957410 W: www.sporttoursitalia.com E: info@sporttoursitalia.com

The South Africa tour has to be the best tour of all, and they are looking at trips that not only include what will be some fantastic and keenly contested rugby, but also offers the very best of the country off the pitch such as Safari’s, Wine Tours, Diving with sharks, Culture etc.

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STRI is the leading global pitch design and consultancy specialist for professional sports surfaces in stadiums.

Article on page

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Gateley Legal Navigating the Legal side of Sport For many professionals in sport, navigating the legal world is like finding yourself stranded in a very deep, very dark jungle at night. There are loads of gnarly roots at your feet just waiting to trip you up, branches are sticking out at odd angles to poke you in the head and there always seems to be something breathing just behind you. Before entering jungles like this, it makes sense to have a guide. Someone who comes prepared with a map, a flashlight and the experience of navigating the more treacherous areas… Gateley Legal started in 1974, under the name Gateley Waring and Co and it began with just twelve employees and now has over one thousand. Best known recently as the first UK law firm to float on the London Stock Exchange. Meaning that as compared to a traditional law firm, employees can own shares, allowing them to share in the success of the business. This sort of forward-thinking approach is one of the mainstay characteristics of the legal and professional services group according to John Burns. John, who is a partner in the business, has 20 years’ experience in the sector. His career working within the legal landscape of sport began when he started working with Everton Football Club. Since then, John has broadened his sporting horizon and grown the practice at Gateley acting for wide-ranging sports clients, including six major premiership football clubs and rugby teams and large and small International and National Governing Bodies, .

“We cover every type of sports organisation,” he says, “And have been growing strength to strength because we keep up to date not only with what is happening in the legal world but also in the sporting arena. This allows us to see what is coming on the horizon today to prepare for how it can affect our clients tomorrow.” Around forty lawyers are actively involved in the sporting sector of the Gateley Legal business and they do a range of work within the sports tech space, with most of their work being with sport organisations. Some of these areas in the tech space include apps, healthcare systems for athletes, booking systems and sponsorship valuation technology to name just a small selection. “This includes working with athletes and players regarding endorsement and image rights exploitation,” John says, “And everything from buying and selling sports businesses, intellectual property rights management and the contractual work that is involved in stadium build and design.” THE STATE OF THE INDUSTRY Gateley work with a number of their sports clients to help them embrace “good governance”. Exploiting commercial opportunities, putting together a diverse and “fit for purpose board” are all skills that have to be learned and not simply assumed. This is where John and his team can

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shed light and, where necessary, take a client by the hand and guide them through. “Good governance” is key to accessing both public and private funding so a number of NGBs have engaged Gateley to help them bring their governance documents up to the mark, upskill their boards and advise generally as to what constitutes good governance. “We are very much involved in ensuring that NGBs adopt good governance,” John says, “And futureproof themselves. Many of our clients are consistently in the public eye and so this kind of preparation is important.” PREPARING FOR THE FUTURE Across the board from small and local clubs to international organisations there is a growing need for businesses in this field to generate their own revenue. As part of what Gateley offers and an area that John is quite involved with is looking at ways to achieve maximum revenue, finding opportunities to “work” a sports organisation’s assets.

“Today more than ever everything that you do electronically can potentially be seen by everyone,” John says, “Nothing escapes social media, nothing goes unreported and everything can potentially end up under a microscope.” While the thought of our emails and private phone messages being hacked is not something any of us really want to think about. It is John’s job to outline the potential damage of such a thing to his clients. “Just because it shouldn’t happen doesn’t mean that it won’t,” he says. THE REAL DANGER The question does pop up however, with so many potential threats lingering around and waiting for us to slip up, are we as people truly able to cope? With such a real threat there are companies investing millions into creating tech solutions to prevent hacking but there is also the need to educate people on how to protect themselves.

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“It is a habit that we all need to adopt,” he says, “And we need to be able to consider the impact of what an email, text or status update could have if it were broadcasted to the world. How would it feel and what it would mean for our careers and livelihood.” In the sporting industry this requires sports bodies to adopt the same approach to training their mouthpieces as what to say and what not to say. They also have to take measures to prevent leaking… and to know what their options are should something private get out. For someone in the public eye, like a star athlete, they need to keep this all in mind and be vigilant against it.. 2020 This year is an exciting one thanks to the Olympics and the work opportunities that arise during this period. New developments and technology will no doubt spring out and there will also be disputes and allegations and urgent issues that need to be worked on. John is particularly interested to see how this year’s host country Japan are going to handle this massive event. Especially as they’ve taken on two of them this year, the Rugby World Cup and then the Olympics.

“They’ve brought the attention of the world on them,” he says, “Through two of the biggest events in sport, for a country us innovative as Japan, it’s going to be very interesting to see what they bring to the table as regards the legacy opportunities that these two great sporting spectaculars will create.” THE IMPORTANCE OF STEPPING UP Economists always enjoy discussing the benefits and hazards of countries that host big sporting events like the Olympics. While big sporting events are incredibly pricey, John believes that it is an important investment in the minds of millions of people worldwide looking to participate in sport.

“A big push today is targeted to getting people involved,” he says, “Who knows where the next big name in sport will come from but without big events like these to inspire them, they may never be found.” In the future he sees more sports businesses getting involved in the participation equation. More organisations are looking at finding investors wanting not only a return on their investment but also a strong benefit to society. These sorts of funds have grown and they’re gaining a lot of traction and value. The benefit of participation in sport cannot be understated he says, “If you look at the alternative remedies GPs are now frequently recommending sporting activities to increase physical and mental wellbeing – a low cost way of improving public health will benefit us all.” https://gateleyplc.com/contact/

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STRI Group Knowing the lay of the land

As the leading sports turf consultancy, STRI Group literally know the lay of the land when it comes to great sport. With incorporated offices in the United States, Australia, China, Melbourne and Qatar their specialist consultants provide high quality, bespoke and cost effective solutions for the design, construction and management of sport surfaces. As a business they have been the masterminds behind the installation of pitches for the FIFA World Cup, UEFA European Championships and the Olympic Games. And organisations like The R & A, Wimbledon Championships, Sport England and the RFU are counted on their list of clients. RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT The finest athletic feet have walked all over their product, and to make sure that this keeps happening, STRI Group is fastidious when it comes to its research and development and manages multiple research projects throughout the year. These product trials are designed to suit each individual sports surface and this sort

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of practise is the reason why the business has been successfully improving the quality of sports surfaces all over the world. As a business they invest heavily and continually in the research and development to keep their reputation for cutting edge technologies alive and the people that they employ are talented, passionate and visionary, showing a relentless pursuit of improving the sporting landscape. CUSTOMER FOCUSES The go-to, first choice company for major sporting events where the quality of the playing field is everything, STRI Group’s mission has always been to deliver outstanding services and workable solutions to every client. Their improvement and solutions are rooted in the science behind their trade and their growth is facilitated through innovation and establishing new territories. Customers benefit, not only from one branch of expertise, but the gathered knowledge and know-how of multiple businesses in many

different locations with dramatically different conditions. Each running their own research and development to keep the process of innovation alive and contributing to the pool of expertise and knowledge that makes this company the powerhouse it is. WORLD CLASS SURFACES FOR WORLD CLASS ATHLETES Their crop of world-class surfaces have functionally helped athletes perform to their best and their turf has enhanced tournament and event venues around the world. Their reputation for future-proof designs that are sustainable and reliable is renowned and this is why they are the chosen group for a number of prominent projects that have their competitors feeling left on the bench. GOLF SAUDI Earlier this year, STRI Group announced that they are supporting Golf Saudi in the creation of a regional and a national strategy for the development of golf courses. The strategies are being prepared to inform golf course developers about the particulars of golf course construction in Saudi Arabia with regard to the environment, turf management, water management and materials selection. Golf Saudi unveiled its progressive environmental strategy during tournament week of the Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers. During the first day of press conferences, Majed Al-Sorour, CEO of the Saudi Golf Federation outlined a series of initiatives the group have put in place over the last twelve months, with particular reference to its pioneering environmental initiatives. “It has been a productive twelve months, but we have only just begun,” commented Al-Sorour. “A key driver has been our environmental strategy; bringing together a consortium of industry leaders to develop a national policy that will propel Saudi Arabia to the forefront of environmental development. It is of paramount importance to our national transformation and is a top priority.”

The environmental strategy to date has seen Golf Saudi align with Golf Environment Organisation (GEO) in order to develop a national program that advises and informs on best-practice across new developments. The initiative will adopt a comprehensive approach with an overarching mission to instil a culture of environmental and ecological innovation. GEO will collaborate with STRI to help achieve sustainability goals for; low carbon, resource efficient and ecologically rich golf courses, which are supported by new knowledge and expertise that will drive delivery. The aim is to create the most robust and progressive environmental and soil science strategy in world golf. Lee Penrose, STRI Group director, said, “STRI is delighted to be selected to support Golf Saudi in the development of a sustainable strategy for golf. STRI has provided sports surface solutions and cutting edge research for over 90 years, and we are looking forward to being able to apply our extensive knowledge and expertise in Saudi Arabia to help inspire and guide golf course development.” In the same vein, a unique turf business has been created, drawing on the expertise and resource of Atlas Turf International Ltd to create a turf farm in the Kingdom that meets international sustainability standards, supplying all Golf Saudi developments and landscaping projects with necessary turf requirements, thereby minimising transportation and providing adapted grasses that require the lowest amounts of reclaimed water and other inputs, whilst delivering highest quality standards. Al-Sorour continued; “Our objective is to create an ecosystem for golf in Saudi Arabia. Ensuring that we can deal with a range of factors including tourism, job creation, sustainability and any environmental concerns. Hosting events such as the Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers has allowed us to not only lay down initial infrastructure but to also gain more exposure around the world, so people can begin to realise that we are serious about becoming a destination for golfers.” To build on the initial progress made by Golf Saudi in its first year, a business summit is being

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held this week, taking place in King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC), Jeddah, Saudi Arabia from 2-4 February, 2020. The Golf Saudi Summit will welcome government ministers, senior executives along with former players to give their take on the future of the game. Attendees will have the unique opportunity to tap into Golf Saudi’s development directly, through a series of panels, discussions and networking opportunities focused on real estate, corporate, tourism and business-tobusiness affairs.

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“Our ambition is to showcase Saudi Arabia’s progress to date, ensuring golf plays a major part in delivering Vision 2030, including the positive socio-economic output of our golf investment,” continued Al Sorour. “The summit will bring industry leaders together to debate key topics, whilst engaging with Saudi stakeholders. This will create the best platform to do business and allow us to further our objectives.”

To ensure Golf Saudi achieves its aims, the organisation has set a series of targets it would like to achieve by 2030. Set out against the designated five core pillars, some of these include: increasing golf club membership to 20,000, ensuring over one million Saudis have actively tried golf, attract at least 5,000 international golf visitors per annum, host 60,000 visitors to Saudibased golfing events every year and oversee the construction of over twenty new golf courses.

At the heart of Golf Saudi’s strategy is innovation and best practice. This pioneering spirit is a key requisite for the country’s cutting-edge strategy and will be a statement of intent for what Golf Saudi aims to achieve with its dynamic golf development programme. T: +44 (0)1274 565131 E: enquiries@strigroup.com

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Real The Power of One Boxing gear from a boxing POV

Inspired and used by professional boxers, REAL is a brand of advanced and functional sportswear for anyone wanting to enjoy premium equipment inside and out of the ring. The product offers a higher quality of gear supporting a wide movement while being distinctive and stylish. The first entrepreneurial push for Max Fraser, who left his career of over a decade in the financial district to pursue a dream of being a boxing coach, REAL represents more than just a clothing brand. Boxing is based on values of respect and inclusion, with most of the hardest work being done outside the ring on the training floor which includes the physical and mental preparation. “I split my time between being a personal trainer with a level one England Boxing lanyard and growing the REAL brand,” Max says, “I’ve found boxing is the best all-rounder, combining the highest levels of fitness with a deep sense of personal value and a respect for others.” Max, along with anyone who takes their boxing training seriously, would testify that boxing is a

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perfectly balanced sport. Incorporating respect and inclusion, ferocity with humility. It pushes you forward towards your fullest potential and helps you face and assess who you are and what you want to be. In boxing, it is entirely down to you to determine what you get out of it. Be it health, confidence, titles or all three.

“Boxing is a lifestyle,” Max says, “By its very nature it makes you a stronger person, making you self-reliant and training you to realise that you are capable of doing amazing things. You are an unstoppable force and you are far stronger than you could ever imagine. It’s all about the power of one.”

REAL. THE POWER OF ONE. REAL is targeted to those who are serious about getting the very best out of their training and want to have the latest, high-end gear to work with. A range of wraps, socks and caps are available on the website and the best materials are used to create these products. Currently, there is a targeted range of products available because Max is purposefully discerning with his products and wanted to home in on the exact products that boxers need to be of the highest quality. Indeed, perhaps as a sign of who really knows their training and who does not, can be what they think is important for a boxer to wear. Quality wrappings to protect the knuckles and wrists, carefully thought out socks that allow for toe and heel grip allowing for that all important transference of power from the feet into the arms. Items that support and improve these small but crucial things are the sorts of products that real fighters value. Even the caps, which are understated and stylish are designed to keep the head warm during recovering periods.

“Of course, the caps are pretty cool to wear as well,” Max points out, “Nobody wants to train with something that’s ugly, do they?” NEW PRODUCTS A range of additional products are coming including shorts and T-shirts, then in September this year, hoodies, sweatshirts and tracksuits are forecast to be released. Max is excited about these developments but is adamant about the quality of his products and not allowing the success of his current range to make him expand too soon.

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“When boxers visit my website, they see a product range through the eyes of a boxer,” he says, “They see quality that is first functional and secondly stylish. The same will go with all the products that appear on my site in the future.” FUTURE GOALS Like any brand creator, Max dreams of his kit being used by the highest professional boxers but for the moment as his business is still bobbing and weaving through the competitive years, he is happy to be the supplier of choice of many dedicated pugilists at a variety of levels. “In some ways that is more authentic and rewarding,” he says, “Professional boxers are often sponsored gear, so you never know if they’ve actually chosen a brand or not. Whereas my customers who range from sixteen to forty five year olds, have selected my brand above all the other choices out there.” And it is not limited to boxing. All martial arts like UFC, karate, Krav Maga and kickboxing require quality and reliable products that have been thoroughly and exhaustively tested in the ring and on the training mat. THE RIGHT MESSAGE Up early and training from 06.30-07.30 every morning, Max certainly makes the most out of his day. After his own training he spends about two

hours a day with clients and the rest of the day is spent on his business. Marketing plays a huge part in the promotion of a brand but leaning back on what he has learnt through boxing he knows the value of preparation and making sure that he positions himself properly with the right message. “Brands make a statement,” he points out, “The people that use my brand are making that same statement, so I have to make sure I have the right voice and the right message to give.” With this in mind, Max has made his five, ten and fifteen year plan but is really focussed on the six month goal. Preferring to dream big but work small he knows that the blocks used to build his business today will become the foundations for tomorrow. “Again, it’s the same as boxing,” he says, “You always have your eyes on the big fight, but you have to make sure what you’re doing right now counts. I don’t see the sense in putting less than one hundred percent into whatever I’m doing now.” 2020 So how is this pioneering hard hitter going to be making this year a knock out? Max predicts that by the end of 2020 his product launches will all have been successful and his products available to buy in bulk. He will also have a couple of extra items that would be nice for the range, like a really good boxing robe. Then, by the close of 2020 he will have hired his first employee. “The two year goal is to be within the top five boxing apparel focuses in Europe,” he says, “I am already marketing with the globe considered. I have a lot of channel exposure through Instagram and a growing popularity in Russia where the fighters value getting every advantage through their equipment that they can.” COMMUNITY The second half of REAL’s unique selling point is that Max is very passionate about supporting mental health and wellbeing and his brand sponsors a charity called Place 2 Be. “I want to get people interested in boxing from a grass roots level,” he says, “Boxing does not

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mean that you have to get into the ring at all, but at every level it can be quite meditative as it focusses the mind and strengthens the body.”


Max recently volunteered on a boxing programme to coach Liberian kids and he is constantly looking for outreach opportunities. He believes that boxing has a long standing place in communities for a reason because once you get started it works better than medicinal drugs at combating mild/ moderate depression and bolstering self-confidence.

“Fighting is focussed on yourself,” Max says, “Invest in yourself and acquire the right support and equipment.”

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Bala Sport Keeping everything in sport fair

WHAT DOES FAIR TRADE IN SPORTS MEAN TO YOU? Bala Sport was founded in Glasgow in 2014 and is a social enterprise and a co-operative. It was founded by Angus Coull after a group of likeminded individuals linked to the Scottish Fair Trade Forum got together with the shared aim of providing a fairer deal for developing country sports ball workers. Angus explains that some were passionate about sports and others about Fairtrade, so it was a good fit. Angus’ own motivations began whilst producing a series of three radio programmes on the subject of Fairtrade for the BBC World Service. After seeing the difference in conditions for Fairtrade and non-Fairtrade coffee growers in Ethiopia he was convinced of the positive impact a simple ethical choice that we as consumers in the UK can make.

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“We got together with a fellow Fairtrade enthusiast and Fairtrade sports ball pioneer in Brighton, Jamie Lloyd who was already importing balls from Pakistan,” Angus explains, “We partnered with him before he handed the business over to us. So, we’ve pretty much created an international sports ball brand from scratch with the unique selling point of being Fairtrade certified and allowing consumers an ethical choice in sports ball purchase.” Since 2014 they have established a strong client base in schools throughout the UK and are seeing an increase in interest from grassroots football, futsal and rugby clubs. They are the official match ball of the Scottish futsal league having worked with them to develop the specifications of balls they need and have provided the match balls for the Homeless World Cup twice. This was in fact Fairtrade history with the tournament in Glasgow

in 2016 being the first major international football tournament to be played with Fairtrade balls. Further to this, their membership and community shareholders list has grown to 117 including two Scottish secondary schools. They are also proud to be expanding throughout the women’s game which doesn’t face the same commercial tie-ins as the men’s game at a higher level. A PIONEER OF CHANGE As an online retailer Bala Sports has the potential to sell all over the world. They have clients in Italy, Ireland, the Czech Republic, Croatia and Finland and schools from the very south of England to the Shetland Isles. Angus explains that they started off by making only footballs but have expanded their range to include futsal and rugby balls. In 2014, Pakistan was the only country in the world where Fairtrade Certified sports balls were made, and this was only in six factories. “We were instrumental in helping a factory in India to gain Fairtrade Certification and to become our hand-stitched rugby ball manufacturer of choice,” he says, “We have been working with the Scottish Volleyball Association to develop specifications for a range of schools volley balls, and we are currently researching and developing these along with netballs and footgolf balls.”

HIGHLIGHTS With great pride, Angus reveals that while their product appearing on a Netflix show seen around the world is cool, it doesn’t come near to the top items on his highlight list from the last six years. These items are all to do with the community impact that Bala Sports has been able to make. Partnering with the Homeless World Cup to make Fairtrade history in 2016, which was hosted in Glasgow and was the first international football tournament to be played with Fairtrade balls. These were specially developed with input from Street Soccer Scotland and made in partnership with fellow co-operative Scotmid (food retailer). According to him this helped shine an international spotlight on their balls and was a perfect fit as that organisation is about changing the lives of those who’ve been effected by homelessness, and Bala Sport are about changing the lives of developing country workers. “We also partnered with Skyscanner to provide the balls for the 2017 Homeless World Cup in Oslo,” he says, “We now partner with a smaller tournament, the Homeless Rugby International Cup. We’ve also provided balls for the British Transplant Games in North Lanarkshire and support some grassroots sports clubs like the inclusive rugby team the Glasgow Alphas.”

OH, BALLS Bala Sports also make customised balls for corporate clients and clubs and have recently completed an order of specially designed balls for the Dennis Law legacy Trust and have produced customised volleyballs for schools in the Czech Republic. They’re balls can also currently be seen in the hit Netflix drama The Stranger!

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DEVELOPMENT Most of the balls are hand stitched but as the big brands move with the times they must do the same so they have developed their “Elite” ball which is made using the new thermal bonding technology. And, while their ambitions extend to the very top of these sports, there are a number of hurdles in the way before their balls are seen on the big, international fields. “With our USP being our Fairtrade Certification, this has restricted our markets,” Angus explains, “In order for a ball to be used in the higher end football leagues they must carry FIFA certification. They however do not allow any other certification mark on a ball, so we would have to choose to be theirs or ours. We can’t be both.” While the footballs are made to exactly the same standards as FIFA Quality Pro, FIFA Quality and IMS (International Matchball Standard), they just can’t have the official certification. The good side of that though is that they don’t have to pay the high fees for that particular certification.

“Setting up a new sports ball brand in a market dominated by a handful of big brands is not an easy thing to do. We struggle to compete with the prices that these brands offer as we don’t enjoy the economy of scale in manufacture that they do, but we do strive to be as competitive as we can,” Angus says. Their core customer base are ethical consumers and organisations. These do not amount to a big number but they are getting the message across to a wider audience that choosing Fairtrade makes a difference to developing country workers. It is meaningful work with a big impact on people’s lives and not bad for an operation involving just two people in Glasgow. “A freelance designer designs our ball artwork,” Angus reveals, “And the factories in Pakistan and India employ hundreds of people. Even with this number we still consider ourselves a lean operation.”

country sports ball workers. Adhering to the Fairtrade Standards means that workers enjoy better rates of pay, safe working conditions and enjoy the benefits of the Fairtrade Premium. This is a cash sum paid to workers through a Fairtrade Committee and they decide which social development projects to invest it in. These typically include the likes of free eye and diabetes tests, free school books and backpacks for workers kids and free transport to and from work for those living in rural areas. Fairtrade also has a strong focus on the empowerment of women and another benefit of the Premium is the part funding of water purification plants. These are built outside the factory gates and anyone can fill up a container of free, safe drinking water, not just workers. Currently in the UK £6m is spend on sports balls each year, sadly only a very tiny percentage of these are Fairtrade. If Bala Sport could even reach 1% of the market the impact on these workers would be huge. “We hope this year to be able to start the production of our netballs and volleyballs and to continue to support projects like Homeless Rugby,” Angus says. SPORTING SPIRIT As ever, the sporting spirit is about fair play and being the best that you can be. Angus explains that he has learnt that bettering yourself doesn’t necessarily have to involve making huge amounts of money, instead, for him it’s about personal fulfilment and making some sort of positive impact in some way. “Don’t be embarrassed about thinking big though and having big ambitions,” Angus says, “Putting other people’s wellbeing at the core of what you do is one of the best and most rewarding things. Everything in sport should be fair.” Address: Bala Sport, Office 233, The Briggait, 141 Bridgegate, Glasgow G1 5HZ


T: 0141 628 7424 or 07957 192222

As a Fairtrade organisation their goal is to continue to improve the lives of developing

E: angus.coull@balasport.co.uk

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W: www.balasport.co.uk

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Profile for TheLostExecutive

#Sportsider Magazine. March Issue.