We are delighted to have as many partners as we have in countries all around the world, spreading the Leisure Leagues brand all across the globe, through our franchise scheme.
Many of our leagues see people right in their local communities making a real difference to health and spreading real joy.
One of our Partners, Dan Webb, has made the Wiltshire area his own, and he celebrated his first anniversary with us this week. It seemed like an ideal opportunity to catch up with him and get some insight into an incredible 12 months.
If we can go back right to the start, what was it that first attracted you to the idea of a franchise?
I had been inspired to start a franchise business after visiting friends in Spain. They have their own online business, as does my Fiancé Ellie. Seeing them work a few hours in the morning before enjoying the rest of the day while I sat and marked what felt like an endless pile of exam scripts. I saw Leisure Leagues I thought I could do a good job running small sided football leagues.
You started with ten teams and one league. It must have been a whirlwind to get to the 65 you have now?
It certainly has been! When I first took on the area I thought it would be easy, Swindon is football mad. I got my head down and got stuck in.
I know Facebook has huge potential from the business Ellie runs so I made sure my presence there is always constant to ensure I engage the right people. I got involved in Facebook Groups and shared content, utilised a steady flow of Facebook Ads, and message people directly and I post as much as I can about the leagues that I run. This allowed me to get the second league up and running at Gerard Buxton Sports Ground in Royal Wootton Bassett just outside Swindon.
From there I have just never passed up an opportunity to start new leagues. My friend, who is a business coach says you can either build a business quick and painfully or slow and painfully. I was determined to go part time from September (I am a teacher) to support Ellie with bringing up our two young Children, so getting to a level where I could afford to do that (50 teams) was really important. I achieved that when I started my fifth league at Calne in September. My goal now is to get to 100 teams and be able to leave work completely.
Which of the seven has given you most pleasure?
I would have to say the leagues I have started at Stanley Park in Chippenham have given me the most pleasure. I am from Chippenham and grew up playing football at Stanley Park. When I took on the Chippenham area I assumed I would be able to walk straight in there to start a league. That didn’t happen thought I would never get the chance. Just as I began to look for another venue I got a message from a team in their league practically begging me to take it on, they’d heard of my good name in the area. I called the centre again and asked them to explain what was going on. He informed me that the league that was there already was really poorly run and I convinced him I could do a much better job. I got the booking secured and without spending a penny on marketing I got a 6 team league running there. The first season is just about to finish and with five teams on the waiting list I have been able to extend that league and also start a new Monday league there too! I am now the only six a side provider at the best facility in North Wiltshire – happy days!
Where to next, are you looking for other areas?
I have looked at lots of different options, other areas and also potentially becoming a master franchise owner in another country.. My next, short term goal is to start monopolising the best venues in this area by having multiple leagues on different nights. This should get me to the 100 team target that will allow me to go full time with Leisure Leagues.
Obviously you have grown so fast in the last 12 months what is it, do you think, that has seen your leagues become the “go to” in Wiltshire.
I have always been good at building relationships with people. I used to visit my leagues a lot in the beginning and so built a rapport with all the players. This has led to them recommending their friends and so on and so forth. When I visit leagues now I take time to talk to the players and find out what their thoughts are about the league. When I don’t visit teams still like to share their experience with me to make sure their match gets covered in as much detail as possible in the weekly match reports.
The other part is that I take great pride in employing a professional approach to every league I run. I message teams to confirm attendance and put in place contingency plans if I think a team might not show up to ensure that as many games as possible go ahead as planned. I make sure I share league table and results on Facebook for teams to see and engage with and then every league gets a full and comprehensive match report. Teams really appreciate the effort that I go to make sure their league is well run and this helps the leagues to grow organically.
I am now considered Mr 6 a side in Swindon and Wiltshire. People message me begging me to find a place for them in one of my leagues, whether it is as a team or as an individual player. When people comment about wanting to play five a side in community groups, people who don’t even play in my leagues tag me.
Leisure Leagues is part of something huge – a real worldwide family. A couple of the other partners – the Ockelford brothers – are the Directors of Football for England, will you be supporting them come the world cup?
Absolutely! I would have loved to have gone to Crete last year but my daughter was due to be born around that time. I am planning to be there in person this year.
I read on your Facebook post to celebrate your year with us, that you’d rekindled relationships with old friends, how did that come about?
As part of growing my leagues in Chippenham I reached out to people I used to play football with growing up. Some of them have become referees for me, some have entered teams and some have just played now and again if a team is short. It’s just cool to be able to see them again and give them an opportunity to get back involved with the game that we all loved so much growing up.
Is that your favourite part of the year?
Actually no. the best part of the year has been able to go part time so that I can spend quality time with my two young children. As a full time teacher I would get up early and get home late. I barely had time to see them before they were put to bed. Now I get to take them out in the week and spend quality time with them that I wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise.
Another favourite isn’t really a favourite but it has probably been the most rewarding part. I have had several people message me over the course of the year to thank me for giving them the opportunity to distract themselves from their mental health issues. They have told me that the 30 minutes of football is the highlight of their week and the only time they feel happy. It’s just great to know that we are making such a positive impact on people in our communities.
Overall it’s been brilliant, I have met some incredible people including other area managers, players and officials that have inspired me and given me advice and helped me on my journey.
Here’s to the next year!
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