A view from the top: Football Unites

We chatted to Jonathan Silman, founder of Community Sports Academies, about starting 'Football Unites' a business with both football and community at its heart.

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What was it like finding your first job?

My first main job role was in athletics. I was able to gain sponsorship at the age of 16 which was different to regular job roles. There was actually quite a lot of synergies between being a self-employed aspiring athlete and also running my own sport academies as a business. I was quite fortunate that I wasn't searching to become an athlete as a job in itself, it was more of a hobby that then developed into a job.


Did you have football/sports in your sights as a career from a young age?

Yes always. I wanted to become a professional football player and was able to experience being a semi-professional in my early twenties whilst combining sport with a full-time position in education. Even in my role in education I would try and be involved in sport where I could. As a Head of School I've been able to have an involvement in developing the Sport Academy offer to learners at a college and linking our programmes to Premier League clubs.


How did you get the idea for creating Football Unites?

After the London Olympics in 2012 I was eager to raise my children in the Olympic Park in London (former athletes village). As this was London's new neighbourhood there weren't many facilities open at the time. The residential numbers grew in the area so we decided to create a free structured community football programme for all ages to enjoy the excellent local facilities and develop a cohesive community.


Why is it important for you to hire young people into the business?

Having started our own ambassador programme it has been empowering to develop young peoples skills that can eventually lead to full-time roles within our organisation. Our organisation is mostly about our young people with 72% of our participants being aged 2-18 years. It is important to hire young people in the context of our organisation so we can help develop their skills whilst contributing to our company's productivity. Ultimately our aim is to grow our own talent by developing a motivated, skilled and qualified workforce as we look to help more communities across London and the UK.


What are you most proud of in your career so far?

Very proud to have won the FA Community Project of the year award Ian’s this year shortlisted forthe Football Business Awards as best community scheme. 


What's the best way to impress you in a job interview?

I look for passionate individuals who are highly motivated and eager to help progress the organisation.