Soccer Assist, founded in 2014, is the UK's leading US Soccer Scholarships agency, designed for student-athletes, with a 100% placement success rate.
1. Who are you outside of being the Co-founder of Soccer Assist?
I’m quite a family orientated person, quite busy and always involved in sports. I like to keep myself busy. A big thing for me is spending time with my family and friends because Monday to Friday is go-go and so I like to relax on the weekends, as it gives me time to switch off. Also, I’ve lived in different countries, played professional football and studied in Seattle, US (which is like England but colder in the winter and warmer in the summer) and West Virginia (I studied abroad there).
2. For you, what is the ‘why’ behind Soccer Assist and how did it begin?
We help academic students who have interest in sports get accepted into US universities on scholarships. Sport can pay for the education, it’s a win-win scenario. I think the ‘why’ is understanding by once being a student athlete myself and understanding the pitfalls that come with it. For students looking to go to university anyway, why not play sport and have a unique experience? Personally, I grew up in Lewisham, South-East London so going to the United States and playing football in Scandinavia was an eye-opening experience. Based off our shared experiences, myself and my co-founder (Junior) found there was a lack of support once students were placed on a US scholarship so we wanted create something that was more personal in order to see the value of working with a student for the 4 years by providing the know-how. It’s becoming more popular but it’s not something that is accessible to everyone. A loan system or bursary system would make it more achievable.
3. How important is it to broaden your horizons by travelling?
It’s huge. London is multicultural and diverse but there is life beyond the UK. The experience of having to make decisions that will impact your future and deal with difficult situations helps you develop into a young man or woman. It’s not all happy days. Studying abroad provides you with opportunities to learn key skills you will take into the work place, such as, working in a team, time management etc.
4. What are some important lessons have you learnt in the past 4 years?
- You need to be in it for the right reasons, this is extremely important. Having no reputation as a young entrepreneur can make it difficult to persuade people in the beginning.
- You have to sacrifice a lot, it was self-funded, we saved a lot of the money we were making playing football in the United States, as a result, we didn’t seek investment which required us to be very patient in order to grow. We chose to focus on constantly improving actual service rather than chasing money for investment, although we are open to potential investment.
- It is important to surround yourself with good people as it’s a team effort. You could do it by yourself, but you will never get to the level that you aspire to get to. Give people accountability to go out and do the work.
5. How do you deal with the highs and lows of running a startup?
- Best way to deal with everything when you’re going through a hard time is, cry, laugh, be happy to deal with whatever it is.
- Try not to worry about it. Figure out why the hard times are here, don’t stand still, keep moving forward.
- Focus on the end result.
- Best quote I’ve heard concerning this: “You’re never going to have to live this day again.”
6. With everything you have done and what you are yet to do, how do you live in the moment?
I’ve a had a near death experience, so now I’m in a situation where I understand the importance of life and valuing my time. When I look at all the different milestones in my life, I can say that I was in the moment for each one of them. I don’t take a lot of pictures as I prefer to be in the moment and soak it all in. With family and friends, ring them up and ask ‘How’s your mental health?’, be fully in the moment whenever you are with them.
7. What’s next for you? What’s next for Soccer Assist? What’s the vision?
The bigger vision for Soccer Assist is to be no.1 as the provider for what we are doing and to have future Olympians come through our programme. The short term focus is to grow our academy in numbers as well, we are looking to recruit another cohort of students. In addition, we have an in-house programme through which we want expose more students to international experiences.
For myself, I have achieved the majority of stuff I’ve set out personally to do. My personal success is dictated by my business’ success and looking forward, I’d like to buy more property and visit more countries, e.g South America and Africa. Ideally, I would like to position myself to be like Ian Wright or Andy Ansah as I used to look up to them when I was younger. I’d like to play my part in giving back.
“Outstanding people have one thing in common: An absolute sense of mission.” –Zig Ziglar
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