Tottenham Hotspur legend, Garth Crooks, encouraged aspiring individuals looking to break into the football industry to seek the direction they needed at Kick It Out's Raise Your Game Conference - the third annual mentoring and leadership event of its kind - in London on 10th April.
The conference, which was attended by prominent football stars including Fabrice Muamba and Carlton Cole, formed part of a wider project run nationwide by the campaign to give people across the country the opportunity to discuss potential pathways into the football industry with leading representatives working at professional clubs, governing bodies and associations.
Fully booked three weeks in advance, this year's event was held at hi-tech Congress Centre, conveniently located in the heart of London’s West End on Great Russell Street, moments from Tottenham Court Road Underground Station. The conference took place in the venue’s impressive wood-panelled Council Chamber, a spacious air conditioned ‘daylight’ room with large plasma screens and Wi-Fi, which accommodates up to 160 delegates theatre style. The four interconnecting meeting rooms adjacent to the Council Chamber were also booked by the organisers for the event. The rooms were opened up and Room One became an exhibition area, an l-shaped buffet station was set up in Room Two, one-to-one sessions were held in Room Three and hot drinks were served in Room Four.
The event was separated into morning and afternoon sessions and focused on management and coaching, grassroots and community, football administration, media and communications, refereeing, sports science, physiotherapy and psychology, the work of licensed agents, and player services. Around 200 participants were in attendance over the course of the day. On arrival, they registered at the dedicated reception area outside the Council Chamber before being encouraged by Garth to seek as much support and guidance as they could during the event.
In previous years, the conference has attracted high-calibre personalities within the football industry and this year’s event was no exception. Mentees were able to gain valuable advice from mentors such as former Notts County manager Keith Curle, Arsenal and England Women's star Rachel Yankey, Millwall chief executive Andy Ambler, Premier League head of supporter relations Cathy Long, BBC Sport's Caroline Barker and Juliette Ferrington, Queen’s Park Rangers assistant physio Sangi Patel, Elite Welfare Management founder Vincent Pericard and Football League match official Keith Hill.
Troy Townsend, Kick It Out’s Mentoring and Leadership Project Manager, commented: “We returned to Congress Centre for the third year running as the location is extremely convenient and the standard of facilities and service at the venue are first class.”
Professional Footballers' Association chairman Clarke Carlisle was also in attendance and gave an inspiring speech about his struggles in the game and how his work ethic has got him to where he is today.
Both the morning and afternoon sessions ended with a Q&A discussion, allowing participants to quiz the respective panels about the journeys they have gone through in football, and the sacrifices they had made to get where they are today.
The conference captured the momentum and essence of the regional events which allowed people to walk away with football-related qualifications, work placements, a better understanding of how to secure employment and ideas for enhancing their own initiatives.
According to Ruby Chagger, conference & sales manager at Congress Centre, “It was a real privilege to host this inspiring event for the third year in succession. The whole event ran like clockwork and made a real difference to the lives of so many people who are hoping to work in the football industry.”
Whether you’re looking for central London convention centres, meeting venues in central London, training facilities in central London or London exhibition venues, Congress Centre offers first class conference and event facilities.