Fiesta Sports Coaching delivers multi-sports children’s coaching across the East Midlands. They do this through a range of sports camps, before and after-school clubs, and in-school activities. John Mulholland and Vicky Gallagher founded the business in 2018 when they were inspired to get young people moving in a fun and safe learning environment. The Fiesta Sports Coaching team delivers a huge range of programmes, covering everything from football to archery and street dance to maths on the move, using the latest coaching insights and sporting practices. Starting as a small team of between 3 and 4 staff, they have enjoyed steady growth and now support around 10 staff members.

What challenge did Fiesta Sports Coaching face? 

Covid-19 had a significant impact on the business as many schools closed their doors to outside providers, or simply closed altogether during the pandemic. Fiesta Sports Coaching had to furlough staff during this difficult period. Director and Founder John described the challenges they faced:

“We had to really struggle with difficult conditions, because a lot of schools just didn’t want outside providers in for obvious reasons … we were just on the lookout for, you know, incentives grants – as I think a lot of companies were – things that we could use to try and support the company, help us grow again, help us rebuild and, just stay in business.”

How did SEMLEP provide support? 

John had heard of SEMLEP and was aware of some of the help they provided to Northamptonshire businesses. So, when Fiesta Sports Coaching faced pandemic challenges he reached out for both financial and business support. They successfully applied for two grants – an Intensive Business Support Grant of £3000 and a Recovery and Resilience Grant of approximately £10,000. 

Fiesta Sports Coaching used the Intensive Business Support Grant to buy more signage, increasing their visible on-site presence. They were also able to invest in extra equipment, including a football launcher enabling them to expand the scope of their football coaching. The Recovery and Resilience Grant was a matched-funding grant used to invest in IT and digital equipment to increase and improve their marketing activities and to introduce fully digital sign-in at all of their venues. 

“Rather than wanting to go to an outside agency and have nice photos that don’t look very authentic and go out of date very quickly, we’ve bought a lot of equipment in to be able to do that ourselves. So, that’s included digital cameras that do HD video as well.”

In addition to financial support, John worked with SEMLEP Business Advisor Carl Mayers who helped to look over their business plans and provide honest and constructive feedback. John got a lot from this process, describing Carl as “really supportive, really knowledgeable, really organised and really, really helpful.”

John reports that the business has already enjoyed increased engagement and improved metrics across their social media and, as a result, have been able to create an in-house digital marketing position. He describes SEMLEP as “brilliant in terms of giving specific feedback” so that when their initial funding request was turned down, they understood why and were able to rethink aspects of their project to add focus, ultimately submitting a successful application. He would strongly recommend SEMLEP support to businesses across the local area: 

“It took a lot of hard work, but we’re grateful to SEMLEP for their help and advice. And I definitely recommend the programme to other businesses … small, medium, or large.