A former teacher has swapped the classroom for a rugby pitch to follow his passion for rugby with a new coaching business venture, with support of the Go For It Programme in association with Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council.
The Go For It Programme is part funded by Invest Northern Ireland and the European Regional Development Fund under the Investment for Growth & Jobs Northern Ireland (2014-2020) Programme.
Rob Masters, from Dromore, launched Ruckus Rugby in August 2018 after spotting a gap in the market for a specialised schools’ rugby coaching business whilst teaching Physical Education.
Rob says; “I have always loved rugby and played for my local team all my life. It dawned on me that whilst there were various companies offering sports coaching within primary schools, none of them offered a specialised rugby coaching programme.
“I started to put a plan in place and put out some feelers to local schools to see if they would be interested. When the response was positive, I applied for a career break from teaching to really see if I could make the idea come to life with the security that if it didn’t work out, I had my career in teaching, which I still loved, to come back to.”
The ethos of Ruckus Rugby is aimed at encouraging primary school children, boys and girls, to get outside, be active and have fun, whilst teaching them important qualities such as teamwork, and discipline.
“When I was growing up, I used to spend all of the school holidays and every evening playing outside with my friends after school. Nowadays, children don’t do that, and are spending an increasing amount of time inside playing computer games.
I am very lucky to have three fantastic children and wanted them to have the opportunity at school to try different sports. Since no one was offering a specialised rugby coaching programme in primary schools, my experience as a teacher and my love for the game of rugby made this an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.
I really felt that if I didn’t do it, someone else would, and I didn’t want to have that regret in life.”
Rob took the plunge in August 2018 and started offering rugby camps during the school holidays. Since then he has generated significant interest in both his in-school offering and rugby camps, with many children who are completely new to the sport, giving it a go.
With the business model proving successful, yet with no formal plan in place, Rob turned to the Go For It Programme, which is delivered free of charge by a team of experienced business mentors through Northern Ireland’s wide network of enterprise agencies.
It provides expert advice and assistance to develop a business plan, which aims to turn ideas into a commercial enterprise.
Rob added: “With my experience as a primary school teacher and PE coordinator within the school, on top of my lifelong passion for rugby, I knew I could deliver a great experience for children.
“The business know-how is where I started to falter a little, I really needed the expertise to help me take Ruckus Rugby to the next level, so that’s when I got in touch with the Go For It Programme.
“The business advisor at Banbridge Enterprise Centre, supported by Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council was fantastic.
“He really helped me to put all of my ideas down on paper into a structured business plan with clear and achievable goals for the future.
“He advised on marketing strategy, financial planning and future staffing requirements, which weren’t elements I had really considered.”
Samuel Marshall, Business Advisor with Banbridge Enterprise Centre on behalf of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council said: “Working with Rob was a real pleasure, his passion for children’s development was clear to see, coupled with his love for rugby meant that the vision for his business really came to life once we started to fine-tune key operational issues.
“Rob had been trading for a few months before he reached out to us. Business was going well, but the lack of a formal plan was hindering his future development.
“We worked with Rob to focus his business offering, map out his key future goals and develop clear financial projections for the first two years of trading.
“With many sell out children’s rugby camps on offer as well as their offering to local primary schools continuously growing, the future looks bright for Rob and Ruckus Rugby.
“We are all delighted at Banbridge Enterprise Centre and look forward to seeing more children getting involved in sport thanks to Rob.”
If you have a business idea you’d like to develop or if you are thinking about starting a business call 0800 027 0639 or visit: visit www.goforitni.com.