As Academy North reaches our 5th birthday we thought this a suitable moment to share 5 reflections on founding and running a cricket coaching business.
1- Numbers don’t tell the whole story, but they are a powerful indicator.
If, in November 2018, when we incorporated the business you would have told us that within 5 years it would be commonplace for Academy North to be frequently delivering over 100 hours of cricket coaching per week we would have laughed at you.
In the winter of 16/17 we worked 8 hour shifts for 20 winter Sundays without earning penny to build the business. 6 years later and at weekends we will operate simultaneously in 4 sports halls most Saturdays and Sundays.
We had no notion of what was possible and who knows what still is? The hunger to participate, enjoy and improve in our sport appears to have a ceiling set by quality opportunities.
2- The demand for coaching is way higher than we anticipated.
Our anticipation when we started the business was that ambitious players in 1st & 2nd XI's would be joined by youngsters in the talent pathway.
However comfortably more than 40% of our individual customers are from groups of people outside these constituencies.
Adults (men and women) unattached to clubs but wanting to start or return to the sport.
Cricketers of all abilities who refuse to focus on anything other than enhancing their abilities rather than focusing on what they can't do or what it is difficult for them to do.
Children whose parents hear of, or see, the quality relationships our coaches build with young people and simply want their kids to be in our environment.
Clubs, we had no notion that clubs would buy our services directly, but now close on a dozen clubs buy coaching for us for their members.
3- Adding to the coaching talent pool.
At Academy North we have created an environment where the Merseyside cricket community now has more than half a dozen people who are coaching a minimum of 30 hours a month (and some coaching more than 100 hours a month).
Thanks to our community of coaches and peer mentoring these coaches are building their skills, knowledge and methods.
We are so proud of the quality of the people we employ and their commitment to be a better coach tomorrow than they were yesterday. The one thing we can be sure of is the quality of our coaching, our growth is dictated by retaining and growing our customer base. Cricket coaching is a luxury and to continue to grow during a cost of living crisis is a powerful testimony to our people and the quality of their work.
Did we mention how proud of our people we are?
4- There is so much more that can be achieved for our sport.
The demand for coaching and for cricket in general constantly surprises us.
If Academy North can grow in the manner we have in the time we have in a football dominated North West then imagine how we could contribute if we could work in wider partnerships.
The opportunity for all organisations in the sport to work collaboratively is huge and the prize of growing the sport, bringing it to a wider audience and creating more quality opportunities is tantalisingly close.
5- Clubs are the foundations and it’s fantastic to have relationships with them.
All our people have put in significant shifts as volunteers at their cricket clubs. Clubs are presently the starting points for the majority of our relationships with our sport and they are the foundations the rest of the sport stands upon.
To be invited into clubs who recognise that procuring a professional coaching service for their members is a way of enhancing their members' experiences is an honour and a privilege.
Here is to five more years. If you're interested in us spending a little time walking alongside you on your cricket journey learn about how we have helped others here & download our 2024 brochure.