Two UCFB Wembley students recently attended the Kick It Out Raise Your Game national conference at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium. Danny Cook and Charlie Pumfrey, who were this year’s runners-up in the UCFB Sports Entrepreneur Award with their website Half Time Cuppa, joined hundreds of sports professionals and those aspiring to work in the industry for a series of talks, seminars and workshops designed to influence the next generation of industry leaders. Writing for his website, Danny had the below to say on the unique experience…

On Monday, Charlie and I had the pleasure of attending Kick It Out’s Raise Your Game 2018 conference at the Emirates Stadium. It was a fantastic opportunity to network with sporting professionals at the very top of the game. In no other place would I as a student be in the same room as over 100 industry experts who had given up their time to help people, who like me, want to get into the industry.

For those who don’t know how the day works, it’s split into two sections – morning and afternoon. In the morning I had two workshops. The first was with Reshmin Chowdhury, who you will often see interviewing on BT Sport’s Champions League coverage, and Eilidh Barbour from the BBC. Both gave great insight into their career paths to date and what it was like working in the sports media industry. The second session was a coaching workshop led by FA County Coach Developer Anthony Ferguson. His session was superb. It motivated me so much that I wanted to coach the teams I have had the pleasure of coaching this season right there and then. I came away from the workshops energised and motivated to raise my game! They were so good that I missed lunch and was fuelled on adrenaline instead.

To kick-off the afternoon session we heard from Leon McKenzie, the former Norwich City striker turned boxer, who shared his story and a project he is now working on called Life After Professional Sport (LAPS), which looks at careers for sports professionals after they finish competing.

Next, I had three scheduled one-to-one meetings with mentors, which included Kelly Somers from Premier League Productions, the Premier League’s Lisa Piggott and TalkSport’s Tom Rennie. All three offered extremely useful advice for me regarding how I can get into the industry. For those who don’t know me, I’m close to finishing the final year of a BA (Hons) Football Business & Media programme at UCFB and I’m keen to put what I have learnt over the last three years into practice.

You could really feel the buzz in the room with lots of discussions taking place. What I loved about these one-to-one sessions was that if there was someone who was free you could go over and have a chat with them. I ended up speaking with Chris Paouros who works for Proud Lilywhites and The Football Association, and she gave some honest and useful advice regarding my next steps. I was very fortunate to have met all four mentors and really appreciate their time.

And just like that, the day was over and it was time to leave. Just before I left I managed to speak to Henry Winter, The Times’ chief football writer, who spared his time after the conference to speak to five of us. He could quite easily have walked straight out the door, but he stayed and listened to us all individually, giving us advice and support about the industry.

If there was ever something to sum up what makes the event special it would be that. Everyone who has given up their time wants to give something back and help others into the football and sports industry, that’s something that I was incredibly thankful for. A massive thank you to the Kick It Out team and of course Troy Townsend for putting on such an amazing event, which like Troy said at the start of the day, has the potential to change people’s lives.

So if you’re looking to work in the football industry make sure you attend next year’s Kick It Out conference, I promise you won’t regret it.