Sunday, 18 August 2019

Teenager launches sports activities firm for children

Teenager launches sports activities firm for children

A BUDDING entrepreneur from Henley has launched his first business organising children’s activities and sports workshops.

Sam Williams, a qualified coach who has been a keen athlete from a young age, has won the contract to run this year’s summer sports camp at Henley leisure centre as part of his new venture Sploj.

The 18-year-old will employ up to six other instructors who will teach more than a dozen sports at the venue in Gillotts Lane throughout August. These will include dodgeball, tennis, tag rugby and rounders.

Mr Williams, who lives in Reading Road with his parents Carl and Katie and younger siblings Jake and Poppy, had worked for the previous provider Premier Sport and took the opportunity after it pulled out a few weeks ago.

His company also arranges private parties where, depending on age, children can play football, take part in traditional children’s races and play on inflatable obstacles and fight with guns that shoot foam bullets. Older guests can take part in “zorbing”, in which they run around or play games while wearing a large inflatable sphere.

Mr Williams left Premier Sport last year and was last working for a company which arranged parties for adults. He decided to go solo as he wanted to be his own boss.

He has held a rugby coaching qualification since the age of 16 as he also teaches at Henley Rugby Club, for whom he has played since he was seven, and more recently updated his first aid certificate and trained in child safeguarding.

Mr Williams said: “I didn’t expect to take on the camps at Gillotts so soon but the opportunity came up about a month ago and it was now or never. If I let it pass, someone else could have it for years before I had another chance.

“I’m hoping to introduce swimming to the camps later on but I’ll need to make more money from sales as it’s quite expensive. I had a slightly slow start but I’m getting new sales every day after increasing my marketing and I’ve got three or four instructors on board already.

“I wasn’t nervous about doing kids’ parties but at first I was worried that I wasn’t ready for this. It’s still a bit of a nerve-wracking time as I’ve got to meet the venue hire costs but things are picking up and I’m confident that it’s all coming together.”

Mr Williams attended Trinity Primary School in Henley then Gillotts School, where he took business studies as a GCSE, and The Henley College, where he continued to study the subject.

He says this made him want to run his own business. He was also inspired his parents who run Siekta, a company that sells valuable memorabilia through silent auctions.

As well as coaching under 13s at the rugby club, which sponsored his qualification, he is also a keen footballer and played for AFC Henley in his youth. He also briefly rowed for Henley Rowing Club but had to stop due to a back injury. Mr Williams said: “I’d always wanted to run my own business although I wasn’t sure what in until recently. I love the idea of being able to see the direct results of my efforts and get more out of things the harder I work.

“Sploj doesn’t mean anything personal but it’s memorable because it’s a bit different. It’s less generic than a lot of other activity companies and I think children will like it as well. It took ages to come up with but it stuck once I thought of it.

“I’ve still got to learn a few skills like accounting. I’m fine with maths but I need to look at it in a bit more detail when this summer’s over and it’s something I can improve as I develop the business.”

Mr Williams says his parents have been supportive. He said: “I think they’re pretty proud and they’ve helped a lot. Dad used to be a graphic designer so he’s been able to create leaflets and flyers.

“It’s taken quite a bit of work to get to this point but I’m really looking forward to starting.”

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