When deep in the thick of day to day operations at OS HQ it is easy to forget that one year ago, there was no Orange Soccer. A year on from leaving the corporate rat race, it seems good time to take stock and reflect on the whirlwind of Orange Soccer LTD’s first year.
My contrast in routine year on year could not be any more extreme. Last wednesday my day consisted of a morning trip to view the new Joma kitwear range, then into Manchester to meet with New Balance regarding a boot testing partnership, back to OS HQ to design a club kitwear package for Altringham FC, before heading to our Lytham Academy, followed by an evening of financial forecasting. Compare that with the same time last year, which could have been any number of generic 9-5 days in a personality free, open-plan office. Yes, the experiences i gained and the people I met at BAE Systems were brilliant and valuable, but after experiencing the joy of working in an industry you have a true passion for …. i could never go back.
Over the coming 5 weeks Orange Soccer LTD will be pitching for investment on www.crowdcube.com. A key element of the pitch is explaining ‘what have you achieved to date?’. Answering that question in only 5 points has been a massive challenge in itself and served to highlight how far we have come. With over 100 teams/ schools partnering with us on kitwear & equipment, 100+ players at our academies, an outreach of 150k+ people worldwide with our #Momentofgenius launch campaign, the Orange Soccer community is strong and growing day by day. Year one has been a massive test, but also a great achievement.
I have been fortunate enough to pursue this project full time. However on my own, this simply would not be happening. The team of apprentices around me on a day to day basis is a great inspiration and adds a feeling of responsibility. Then there are those people who chip in massively on a regular basis; whether it be coaches delivering brilliant sessions or our Brand Director Gary Blowers Skyping me from Dubai each day to remind me what the sun looks like. This operational team is delivering more than i ever imagined and i feel privileged to have them on the journey. At OS we are also blessed to have a great team of Non Execs that truly do add value and help shape our strategy.
Whilst year 1 has been a success, it has been far from plain sailing. We face daily challenges to maintain our momentum and test our resolve. These challenges no longer just impact my 9-5, but become a test of character and attitude to life. At these times I often find myself referring to my ‘inspirational quotes’ app. Far too often ‘No Regrets’ pops up - an ideological sentiment i don’t buy into. Do I have regrets? Definitely. Do I wish I could go back and change some decisions? Yes. Does that make me weak or give me a negative attitude? No. Those regrets act as a daily reminder that I must kick on, to put them right and surpass any negative outcomes they brought.
Whilst financially managing large defence contracts was theoretically mentally challenging, nothing compares to the strain of living, breathing and growing your own project. But more importantly, nothing compares to the satisfaction you feel when you do achieve and surpass even your own expectations, in a project grown from scratch.
One year on I can safely say yes, I am happy with where we are. But am i content? No. Orange Soccer has a long way to go and I’m sure over the next few years we will experience some big hurdles. But I don’t need to worry, #TeamOS is strong and we will deliver.