With interest in American sports getting bigger every year in the UK and Europe, so does the fascination with the avalanche of merchandise that comes with it. As big fans of US sport, UCFB graduates Joseph Agate and Rachel Waters, who met in New York via a UCFB work experience placement and are now engaged, saw a gap in the market for fans in Europe who want to seek out rare and signed items from their heroes Stateside. Through this, Agate Signed Sport was born.

Rachel, a BA (Hons) Football Business & Marketing graduate, and Joseph, a BA (Hons) Physical Education graduate and currently a MSc International Sport Management (Online) student, are combining the skills they picked up at UCFB to make the business a success.

Joseph said: “Being able to work together within something that we are both hugely passionate about is extremely exciting. We are able to see some of the best names in the biggest sports pass through our hands, be it a Patrick Mahomes signed helmet or a Michael Jordan autographed picture, and provide fans with a piece of sporting history.” 

Here, he explains further how Agate was born and the pair’s passion for US sport…

What was the thought process behind starting Agate Signed Sport?

As huge American sports fans, merchandise and memorabilia allows us to feel closer to each sport. Whilst we may not be able to physically go to games in the US, we can still feel close to our teams by wearing the jerseys or by having their merchandise. Signed memorabilia takes that feeling one step closer as you can own a piece of history that is signed by your favourite player or team.

Through having the opportunity to travel to New York with UCFB and work within the elite sports environment with the Long Island Rough Riders, a New York City Football Club affiliate team, we were able to connect with other like-minded American sports fans who were also passionate about memorabilia. This allowed us to be able to source authentic memorabilia at a fraction of the price fans would typically pay in the UK.

When we first started collecting we didn’t envisage creating our own memorabilia store, but as our collection grew friends started to notice and ask if we could find specific items for them. This opened our eyes to what could be a potential opportunity in providing other fans with the same service. Looking into the growing fan base of American football, specifically in the UK and Europe, there was a gap in the market for a store providing fans with accessible, authentic and affordable memorabilia. To achieve the three A’s in being accessible, authentic and affordable, our mantra is: American sports memorabilia for everyone.

What made you want to operate your own business?

Throughout my time at UCFB, I have been heavily involved in community sport as coaching director of Mossbank JFC and director of Mossbank Community Sports and Education, who provide an array of sporting activites to the local community. This experience, alongside guest speakers and a UCFB degree, has given me both the foundational skills and confidence to take this venture forward with Rachel. It has always been my dream to eventually become my own boss.

Rachel is also a huge sports fan, and is passionate about American sport specifically. Having completed a degree in Football Business & Marketing at UCFB Wembley, Rachel is able to create a variety of marketing content to take Agate Signed Sport forward. UCFB has provided us with skills which we can build on in our own venture. 

Is American sport a passion for you both?

American sport is something that we both follow. Whether it be American football, basketball or other sports, we love the whole environment. We have attended both the NFL and NBA International Series in London and can’t wait for the seasons to resume. This journey has allowed us to not only work within the sports we love, but to connect with some of the best players in the world.

Through this venture we also want to provide the opportunity to grow American football at a grassroots level; we’ll be working alongside Mossbank Community Sports and Education to create a pathway for people to take up the sport. We are also working with other companies in the UK to bring American sports fans together, when it is safe to do so.