In April 2021, Kixx Plymouth football academies were launched by brothers, Neil and Chris Pope. For them, life before becoming a Kixx Franchisee was very different, having served over 30 years collectively in the Armed Forces.
During a recent Interview with the Pope brothers they talked about what life was like before Kixx, but interestingly how the skills obtained in the Armed Forces, helped them both successfully transition to life at Kixx.
It is a transition that so far has gone incredibly well, having only opened their doors during April 2021 but already have over 200 children attending their academies, every single week.
It has actually gone that well that the Armed Forces Veterans have already invested in their second Kixx Franchise area and will be launching Kixx Exeter during early 2022.
Of course, we all want to know the what, why and how do you even go from the Armed Forces to running your own successful football academies?
First up we have older brother, Neil, a man who has served over 20 years for his country in the British Army and travelled to some of the most hostile environments in the world during his career.
Neil commented about life in the Army:
“I joined the Army at 17 years old and following extensive training I became a ‘Radioman’ which is a specialist soldier responsible for military communications. Over my career I have worked in Satellite communications in Germany and worked undercover in countries including the Falklands and Afghanistan.
“During the last few years in the Army I worked predominantly in America and the UK with Military Intelligence. After serving over 20 years, I left the Army to focus on spending more time with my family, which coincidently led me to launching my own Kixx Franchise.”
(Neil Pope – Army Veteran of over 20 years)
“I coach my sons local football team and have for a while, so with having a little more free time, I did my research into children’s football academies and came across Kixx.
“Instantly I was so impressed by the brand, the values and how the academies looked online that I had to find out more.
“After several conversations and putting together a very thorough business plan, myself and my brother, ‘joined forces’ to launch Kixx Plymouth.”
Younger brother Chris served 10 years in the Royal Navy before leaving in 2021 to start the Kixx Franchise with older brother Neil.
“I joined the Navy basically because my brother told me not to join the Army as I’d see more of the world with the Navy
When asked what his role within the Navy was…..
“Hunting Submarines, counter narcotics and disaster relief” he said
A very different Job description to what Chris has now.
During the interview, the Navy Veteran was asked what the transition was like, going from the Armed Forces to coaching children every week and owning and running your own business..
Chris said “For some people coaching children can be daunting and running your own business can be scary.
“However, being in the Navy, in the Armed Forces, it provides you with very valuable skills and traits. One of them is being super organised with your planning and another is to ‘adapt and overcome’
“Working with children and a brand like Kixx has been a natural transition but like anything, in business you will always face problems or hurdles that you must tackle head on. We will always adapt and overcome every problem we face and that’s something I believe you inherit in the Armed Forces.”
(Chris Pope (left), Neil Pope (right) – Coaching)
Army Veteran, Neil Pope, concluded with his words on why he chose a Franchise instead of actually starting his own football coaching business”
“I was asked by a few friends why I didn’t just start my own football academy and there were plenty of reasons why.
“In reality, I think I could do it; I believe anyone can do anything when they put their mind to it. But what people perhaps don’t realise is how much time it takes running a successful business.
“I don’t have easy payment methods or the latest customer relationship management system. I’m not an expert in social media and I don’t have time to contact hundreds of people every single week. I certainly don’t have an established brand.
“Kixx have an established and successful framework and the brand looks fantastic. With having a franchise, I get to run my own business but have all the day to day admin work done for you.
“Importantly you have access to a market leading website, payment providers and an enhanced Customer Relationship Management system. The tools and technology are important, it’s saved a massive amount of personal cost and any system is only as good as those that programme it.
“Ironically, having Kixx is like having a parent. They will give you all the advice, support and help you need, but they will let you go out there and do it your way.
“They will let you run the show, even make mistakes but will always be there to hold your hand and help you every step of the way which gives us fantastic confidence to build our academies every single month and confidence that our investment is going to be a very rewarding one.”
You can watch the full interview with the Kixx Plymouth Franchises owners below:
Kixx was formed 10 years ago by former pro footballer, Ben Hunter. In 2021 Kixx has tens of thousands of children that attend their academies every single week and have a franchise family that includes former and pro footballers, James Coppinger, Joss Labadie, Martin Riley, Zeph Thomas, Liam King and Ade Azeez.
Whilst you might think running a football academy means you require a background in football, to be a Kixx Franchisee, you simply require the right passion and attitude to want to make a difference helping children strike a love for sport that will live with them for life.
The Kixx Franchise network is not only made up of footballers but includes coaches, teachers, physios, insurance brokers and now the Armed Forces, amongst many other career paths.