eye4education / Irish FA Enterprise Partnership Showing Significant Results

Young people in secondary schools across Northern Ireland are being encouraged to take part in the Irish Football Association’s enterprise programme.

Now in its second year, the ground breaking three year project is aimed at 15-16 year-olds and uses football to engage students on key business and enterprise awareness, from innovation and product design, to sales and marketing, to physically developing prototypes for the programme.

Funded by the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) and run by eye4education in partnership with the Irish FA; the partnership has now been extended with Invest Northern Ireland coming on board for the second and third years of the programme.

The first and second years of the initiative proved to be very successful with Ashfield Boys' winning the overall award in Year one and Lagan College having the success in Year two. In total thirty four schools (1500 students+) have taken part in the process thus far; with the aim for the third year being to have 40 schools taking part.

In addition to developing and creating a Northern Ireland product; the pupils also receive a number of enterprise and football related workshops on sales, marketing, manufacturing and business administration. Pupils are then asked to present their product to dragons from the world of business and marketing in a Dragons Den situation; with one winner chosen from each school. One overall winner is then selected and receives a grant to produce and sell 100 of the winning products in their school to raise school funds.

Irish FA Head of Marketing and Communications, Geoff Wilson said: “We have had fantastic feedback from the programme, far beyond what we had expected. Teachers have found that the project has not only helped educate pupils on enterprise and business but it has also helped them develop other skills such as time management and communication and social skills.” Geoff added: “We are really looking forward to rolling out the third year of the project and to continue working with DCAL; we are also delighted to welcome on board Invest NI who will sponsor further awards in Year three – Best Overall Presentation, Top Teacher Involvement and Best Overall Student.”

Niall Casey of Invest NI said: “Invest NI supports the creation of a more enterprise based and innovative society in Northern Ireland. We are therefore delighted to support this initiative which will increase the skills of school pupils and build their awareness of the opportunities on offer by taking an entrepreneurial approach to their future careers.” The programme has been made possible due to the generous support of the NI Executive through the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure through the ‘Promoting Equality, Tackling Poverty and Social Exclusion through Sport’ programme.

Claire Murphy – Lagan College

“The Irish FA Enterprise Challenge was a great experience for the pupils and the project delivery from eye4education was second to none. “The students developed their presentation and teamwork skills and raised self confidence in their abilities to deliver on the big stage. The real world context allowed the pupils to develop a great understanding of product development, economics and business concepts. The pupils thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience.”

David Allen – Strangford College

“I would strongly recommend that schools participate in the IFA enterprise project as it opens the minds of pupils to the world of Enterprise and the concepts of starting up and running a business, working in teams and making a profit. The expertise from eye4education in workshops delivery and the master class at Queens gave the pupils an insight into the world of Marketing and Finance. Our pupils at Strangford College learned so much throughout the process about teamwork, planning and prioritising, negotiating and the art of persuading, juggling workloads, sharing ideas, presenting and developing and using their ICT skills. They were also able to develop their T&D skills in producing a prototype of their product. All in all, we believe this project was the most rewarding and beneficial experience for the students that this school has ever taken on.”

Sara McKeown – Bangor Academy

“The project was great at encouraging our pupils to be innovative, work together as teams and feel inspired by every aspect of this task. It enabled pupils to develop a sense of confidence in their own thoughts and opinions, while also awakening a competitive edge to their personality that some didn’t realise was there. Also, the ability to facilitate 13 teams learning and competing throughout the 1st 2 workshops was a great way to have maximum impact ensuring the entire school got involved in the process. A great project that encourages pupils of all abilities to make the most of any opportunity offered to them.”

Jonny Smith – Belfast Boys’ Model School

“We decided as a school to include the entire Year Group in the initial workshops to ensure all students were given the opportunity to compete for their place at the Master Class and the event at La Mon. The students showed an incredible level of commitment to learn about marketing, the 4P’s, product development, pricing strategies and presentation skills. However, the most impressive bit was seeing them putting it into practice by bringing a real life context to the great theory being taught in school and by eye4education. A fantastic project delivered in an extremely professional, business-like fashion.

Nicholas Jamison – Lagan College MD

“This project really helped me and my team mates gel as a group ensuring we were firstly the winning team from our school and the eventual overall winners. We learnt so much about business that will ensure we are now under incredible pressure to do well in our GCSE’s. Our team would like to thank the IFA for allowing us to be part of this project as we all have said it was the best time we have ever had and finished off with an IPad mini before Christmas. Happy Days.”

Alice Quinn – CEO North City Business Centre (Dragon during final event)

“It was a fantastic honour and privilege to be asked to participate in such a wonderful programme such as the Irish FA Enterprise Project. The students showed incredible attention to detail from presenting their innovative products, business startup awareness to producing and displaying fully functioning prototypes. This project looks to have given the students an experience of what the relevant business curriculum they are being taught in school would look like in the real world of enterprise and entrepreneurship. Well done to all involved!