Freeborough Academy have guided Middlesbrough FC to the Premier League Enterprise finals after seeing off fierce competition in yesterday’s area semi-finals in Leicester.
Five pupils from the Brotton-based high school; Eve, Katie, Toby, Neo and Joe, made the 318 mile round trip to the King Power Stadium after being selected to represent Middlesbrough after winning a local area round held at the Riverside before Christmas.
Premier League Enterprise has enabled clubs to provide unique and high-quality enterprise education in their local communities and has had a positive impact on young people, particularly in increasing confidence, aspirations, attendance and motivation at school.
With the challenge set by Premier League Chief Executive, Richard Scudamore, participants have been asked to generate ideas that result in greater inclusion within their fan base, and a significant improvement in match attendance for new fans.
Freeborough’s idea was to connect with the local community through the annual Mela celebration in Middlesbrough, a two-day free event in the heart of the town centre, and is one of the largest multi-cultural events in the North East. The annual event attracts up to 40,000 visitors to enjoy a mix of live music, foods, craft and fashion stalls.
The concept was to host a Mini Mela festival prior to a Middlesbrough FC home match, as a way of attracting a potential new demographic to the Riverside Stadium.
The idea went down a treat, as the judges opted for Freeborough’s pitch to head through to the finals at Ernst & Young in London on April 23rd, beating competition from Derby County, Huddersfield Town, Aston Villa and Norwich City.
“The hours the young people have put into perfecting their pitch and developing their idea well and truly paid off on the day,” said MFC Foundation’s Enterprise Lead, Andrew Downey.
“I was very impressed by the calibre of the competition on the day; every school involved can be pleased with their efforts, they did their club proud.”
The factor that tipped the victory in Freeborough’s favour was the backing of the Football Club itself, with Chief Operating Officer Mark Ellis offering his full support to the Mini Mela, which is due to be held prior to one of Middlesbrough’s Sky Bet Championship fixtures in April.
“The students from Freeborough Academy came to us in early December with a great idea that struck a chord with us,” he said.
“This [their idea] has met an objective that we’ve been trying as a club to increase the number of people from the Asian community that come to us on a match day.
“We are really excited about the prospect of introducing this Mela at the Riverside at a game in April.
“Congratulations to Freeborough Academy for their idea, and we look forward to working with them over the next few weeks.”