Freebrough Academy proudly represented Middlesbrough FC and MFC Foundation at this week’s Premier League Enterprise Finals in London with their ‘Project Menka’ initiative.
Freebrough were one of six schools who reached the final, where they presented fully costed ideas to meet a brief set by Premier League Executive Chairman Richard Scudamore, which this year was to increase their club’s international fan base and its income streams for the USA.
The team consisted of five pupils from the Brotton-based high school; Eve, Katie, Toby, Neo and Joe.
Freebrough’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. Their idea became a reality after receiving support from Mark Ellis, Middlesbrough FC’s Chief Operating Officer, and local BAME supporter group Boro Fusion, with a mini mela festival hosted prior to the match against Nottingham Forest earlier this month.
A hundred schools took part in this year’s challenge, with 30 Premier League and Football League clubs engaging 600 young people.
Having beaten out a number of quality pitches from schools all around Teesside, Freebrough Academy went to the King Power Stadium in Leicester to compete against qualifying schools from Norwich, Derby County, Huddersfield Town and Aston Villa.
Freebrough took the one and only space from the round to earn a place in the finals, which was held at Ernst & Young Headquarters in London.
Despite impressing the judging panel which consisted of Dragon’s Den star and businessman Theo Paphitis, former Chelsea defender Graeme Le Saux, Arsenal Ladies footballer Alex Scott and Peta Bistany from the Premier League, the team fell narrowly short of clinching the top prize, losing out to joint-winners Wigan Athletic and Everton.
MFC Foundation’s Premier League Enterprise Coordinator, Andy Downey, said: “We are exceptionally proud of the boys and girls from Freebrough Academy, and what they have achieved on this journey to the finals.
“From their very first pitch back in December, we knew their idea was a great one, and with a little expansion could become a very real and feasible concept to deliver.
“There was some very tough competition at every stage of the process, but they can take this experience and use it towards any other enterprise they may wish to pursue in their budding careers.
“The fact that they actually managed to get Middlesbrough Football Club to bring their idea to life and deliver it on a match day was monumental; proving that their sound planning and hard work had paid off.”
The competition, run in partnership with Sport Relief, uses football to engage young people in business activities and has been running since 2009 with 11,000 young people engaged to date.