A motivational footballing app and an educational social media sports account were the big winners to secure funding at the 2022 UCFB Sports Entrepreneur Award, the first event held in-person for two years.

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This year, however, MSc Football Business student Andrian Selivestru stunned the board with his altruistic proposal to provide football and mental health sessions for the children of Ukranian refugees who are settling in London as a result of the devastating conflict in their home country. Touched by this selfless, and innovative, idea, the board agreed to provide £12,000 over the course of a year to help oversee and fund the project, which was rightly placed in a separate category altogether.

Other students from both UCFB Wembley and UCFB Etihad Campus presented their ideas over two days to members of the UCFB board in the hope of gaining investment towards their projects.

Following several compelling pitches Hameem Ahmed and Aryan Mojallal Mehr walked away with the winning prizemoney of £5,000, to invest into their business projects, ‘Tactic Talk’ and ‘FC Motivate’, respectively.

Speaking honestly about how the Entrepreneur Award helped him, BA (Hons) International Football Business student Hameem said: “I’m really glad it payed off and even if I hadn’t have won, I would’ve gone home taking back something massive in terms of bringing home my drive to return to the page, which had been wavering in recent months. I now plan to finish my university work and then get straight back to the business!”

Aryan, a BA (Hons) Football Business & Finance student whose budding business is currently the largest football motivation platform across TikTok (830k) and YouTube (450K), added: “I cannot believe I have won! I will dedicate most of the money on the app I am currently building, and the other amount will be spent on improving the quality of contents on my YouTube channel.”

The competition is led by UCFB chairman Brendan Flood and provides students with an unprecedented opportunity to pitch their sports business ideas to a senior UCFB panel, then field any questions they might have.

Alongside winning funding for their projects, the aspiring entrepreneurs will also receive guidance from the panel over the next year to help with their product development.

Commenting on the event, Brendan said: “We encourage entrepreneurship as part of the student journey at UCFB and GIS, and I was delighted to see that entrepreneurial spirit in all of the pitches. We look for people who can be leaders. It’s the Dragon’s Den style presentation that you see on TV – the students love it, it’s a way of testing themselves, discovering what they’re made of, and we look for people who are going to contribute to their team and also innovate an industry.”

He added: “Congratulations to all of the project and award winners this year. There were many strong competitors, with some incredibly well thought through ideas and business proposals. I’m very much looking forward to working with this year’s winners to develop their ideas further and help them pursue their careers in the sports industry.”