Chelsea Chairman Bruce Buck joined Matt Hancock, Minister of State for Skills and Enterprise, Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore and 60 students at Stamford Bridge as part of the Premier League Enterprise Challenge initiative on Thursday.
The youngsters, representing Barclays Premier League sides including Manchester United, Newcastle United, Sunderland and Tottenham, as well as our representatives from Southfields School in Wandsworth and the Capital Cities Academy in Willesden, were set a real-life football marketing task by Scudamore, with the aim of teaching them about the basic principles of business, employment and self-employment.
The challenge this year, which was launched during Global Entrepreneurship Week, is to develop ways to attract new fans and develop new revenue streams from growing international markets, specifically Africa and America. More than 3,000 youngsters around the country will take part in the initiative, with the best six teams returning next April to compete for victory.
'What often goes unnoticed is the power of football to inspire and to motivate,' Buck said. 'Football has the unique ability to engage people, to educate and to be used as a force for good within our communities. It's that ability to inspire that brings us here today. I'm hoping there will be an idea coming out from one of the groups this year that we can implement.
'I saw some boots the Sunderland group were designing and I think they'd look very good with a Chelsea logo on. I wish them the very best of luck in the enterprise challenge, even those who may be Spurs and Arsenal fans.
'One word of warning to the pupils of Southfields Academy and Capital Cities Academy, who are representing Chelsea - as you know we have a manager who does not like to lose, so no pressure!'
Matt Hancock pointed to the Premier League's reach as a major reason for the Government getting behind the scheme.
'The most exciting thing is seeing that competitive instinct between different teams,' he said. 'There is no doubt getting those juices flowing helps and supports people to go on and achieve their potential.
'I often say it's my job to make sure everybody in the country has their chance to achieve their potential. We can achieve that through providing high quality education but a crucial part of that is delivering inspiration and aspiration, and that's what the Premier League and the clubs bring. I'm extremely grateful to the Premier League and everybody involved for bringing this programme together and putting on this event. You can feel so clearly the impact it is making.'
Richard Scudamore added: 'The dictionary definition of "enterprise" says it is a business venture involving some effort, some risk and some complication. I think Bruce will agree that a football club meets that definition in every sense! You have to work hard if you're going to make anything successful, you cannot not take a risk, and complication, it's never straightforward. No entrepreneur ever achieved anything without facing some sort of complication.'
The Premier League Enterprise Academy (PLEA) programme falls under the celebrated Creating Chances umbrella, and is now in its fifth year. The programme is now delivered by 22 Premier League and Football League Club Community Trust and Foundations, including the Chelsea Foundation.