After completing his MSc Football Business at Global Institute of Sport last year, the inspirational Jean-Pierre Murungi founded the London Community Academy – an organisation set up to give disadvantaged youth in South London a chance to get involved with sport.

While also working as a coach at Fulham FC and an academy scout at Colchester United, the UCFB Wembley graduate strives to positively impact the community by bridging the gap between academy and grassroots football. Here, Jean-Pierre tells us about his time at GIS and his plans for the academy to help transform lives…

Why did you choose to set up the London Community Academy? 

I created the London Community Academy (LCA) as a new sporting organisation that specialises in sports coaching for youth aged 11-18, and promotes the use of sport to improve and develop young people in London. After working with Fulham Football Club Foundation and Colchester United as a development coach and scout, I realised the gap between academy level and grassroots sport was huge. Therefore, whilst completing my masters in MSc Football Business at UCFB, I decided to create a sports coaching company that would deliver better than the average grassroots club/company, give back to the community and involve things that academy athletes receive that grassroots clubs may not have. I wanted to bridge the gap between grassroots and sports professionals.

Tell us about what the academy does and how it brings young people together...

LCA is split into three departments which are the academy, schools/community outreach and merchandise. In schools in South London, we deliver a range of after-school sports such as basketball and football, as well as sports trips. With each school we work with we give out free academy kits to the best-behaved students or those that come from backgrounds that are financially challenged for such accessories. We believe that all young people have the right to participate and enjoy sport to the highest quality possible, which is why we support people from different ethnic and financial backgrounds. For schools with 16-18 year olds who are interested in sports coaching, we help support them by funding their level one courses in their desired sport. With high youth crime in South London, we are also aiming to start open community sessions to keep youth engaged in positive activities outside school hours.

Our academy department is where we aim to bridge the gap between professional settings and grassroots. Our football academy will be starting in September 2021 and will consist of coaching and medical staff, equipment and extra incentives that academies have but grassroots often don't. Finally, our merchandise department was created to help create profits that support our academy and community outreach projects. We ask kids who participate in our sessions to create designs and we pick the best design to be printed as the next batch of merchandise. Combining all three departments, I believe we can reach the majority of young people in South London.

What do you hope to achieve from setting it up?

We aim to positively impact young people’s lives and provide them with a foundation they can build on to create an inspiring future. Hence our motto is: “Our London, Our Community”. I want to give youth opportunities that I did not receive as a young boy growing up in South London.

What will you bring to the role that you learnt on your MSc Football Business programme at GIS? 

Studying my degree gave me a clearer perspective on how football clubs are run as a business, from operations to marketing. I think completing my master's is what prepared me to take the final step and actually create my own sports organisation. I originally had the idea during my undergraduate degree but never pursued it as I didn't feel I had adequate knowledge to properly start it. The MSc in Football Business opened my mind about the running of these famous sports organisations such as the Premier League and Olympics, and once I understood the logistics behind them I just replicated and used the knowledge for my own business. 

How has your coaching role at Fulham Football Club Foundation prepared you for your own academy?

Working with Fulham FC has enabled me to become a better coach as I’m able to learn from top coaches and gain similar skills. Besides the coaching, I have been involved in community kicks with Fulham. This was imperative for me as it showed the procedures and benefits for community sports. 

Tell us about your other role as an Academy Scout at Colchester United...

I was always interested in scouting and I saw an opportunity with Colchester United through the UCFB careers page. I haven't been to many matches because not long after I started coronavirus hit and slowed down grassroots sport. However, the few matches I have seen have been a learning curve; I’ve had to learn to watch the game as a scout rather than a coach, which has been particularly difficult for me. Working with a professional league club showed me the criteria of what is needed to be scouted by a professional club and I hope I can coach this into the boys who will be at my academy to help them progress in their football career. 

What advice can you pass on to any students looking to study at GIS?

I would say get involved as much as you can. This includes the work experience opportunities, making connections with the tutors and especially your peers. The connections at GIS are top notch and if you like sport then it is the right place for you.

Find out more at www.londoncommunityacademy.co.uk or get in touch at Jean@londoncommunityacademy.co.uk.