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Sports business finds winning formula at University Innovation Park

Ashleigh Kate Burns, Marketing Manager; Paige Townsend, Sales; Caprice Eustace, Operations Manager; Ian Dodd, Managing Director of Sport Lived; Bob Scott, Director of University of Nottingham Innovation Park; Ali McClintock, Sales

Ashleigh Kate Burns, Marketing Manager; Paige Townsend, Sales; Caprice Eustace, Operations Manager; Ian Dodd, Managing Director of Sport Lived; Bob Scott, Director of University of Nottingham Innovation Park; Ali McClintock, Sales

A business which specialises in arranging overseas sporting programmes for gap year students is going from strength to strength at the University of Nottingham’s Innovation Park.

Sport Lived was founded by Ian Dodd, who spent six months playing cricket in South Africa in 2002. Ian was so inspired by his experience of playing sport and travelling that he decided to set up a company to help other people have the same adventure.

Sport Lived provides gap year placements for students in Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, South Africa and Argentina in a wide range of sports, including athletics, cricket, football, hockey, netball, rugby and more.

The company has expanded rapidly in recent years, as an increasing number of young people are attracted to the Sport Lived offer which spans a flexible spectrum of opportunities from four weeks to six months. In the latest financial year, the company’s turnover has seen an increase of over 50% compared with the previous twelve months.

“I think we have found a particular niche in the market,” says company founder, Ian Dodd. “In each country we’ve handpicked the best sports clubs, coaching placements and accommodation providers. We also have permanent staff in each of our cities to help and support the young people who are out there.”

Ian moved Sport Lived into the University of Nottingham Innovation Park (UNIP) in May 2012 in order to accommodate the expanding team and provide it with space to grow in the future. The company currently employs a total of 15 people across its site in Nottingham and its overseas bases in Cape Town, Melbourne, Brisbane, Colombo (Sri Lanka), Dunedin (New Zealand) and Rosario (Argentina).

“UNIP is the ideal base for us,” added Ian. “We spend a lot of time meeting young people who are about to leave school or college and Nottingham is very central, which means that we are within easy reach of the majority of schools and colleges across the country. We also have space to grow the business here and take on new staff if we need to, as the office accommodation is very flexible.”

As far as the future is concerned, Sport Lived is looking to grow its UK operation while at the same time, expanding its offer to students from other parts of the world, as it builds its international reputation.

“I honestly believe that travelling overseas to play and coach sport is one of the best things you’ll ever do, no matter what career you want to pursue,” added Ian. “For a young person, being able to see the world through sport is an inspirational and unforgettable life-changing experience.”

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