PE teacher strides forward into business

TEAM WORK: Matt Hodkinson from SportUnity takes a helping hand from Shafiq Khan who leads Clough's 121 Business Centre.
TEAM WORK: Matt Hodkinson from SportUnity takes a helping hand from Shafiq Khan who leads Clough's 121 Business Centre.

A PE teacher with a passion for helping young people has won the backing of a leading accountancy firm after entering a competition to start his own business.

Budding entrepreneur Matt Hodkinson, caught the eye of the judges on the panel at Cleckheaton Clough and Company with his SportUnity idea.

Mr Hodkinson, who worked at Earlsheaton Technology College for 13 years, was also part of the government’s School Sport Partnership programme which offered further training to teachers and forged links with local sport clubs and teams in order to increase participation and fitness levels for children aged five to 18.

He said: “I am responsible for a family of schools in the St John Fisher Partnership which includes seven high schools and 42 primary schools in the Dewsbury and Batley areas of Yorkshire. Unfortunately, following the recent government spending review funding for the partnerships has been cut, but I want to continue the work of the partnership as a new enterprise – SportUnity.”

SportUnity will provide all children, regardless of social background, access to sports and physical activity.

He added: “I hope the company will be funded in part by the schools that benefit from the service and local health organisations. Money is often a stumbling block when it comes to sporting activities, particularly amongst children from lower income families, but I am confident that SportUnity will be able to bridge the gap.”

Practice chairman at Clough and Company Steven Gash said: “We ran the competition as we wanted to encourage local entrepreneurs to take the plunge and start their own business. The prize of a year’s worth of partner-lead financial and business advice meant that we had a phenomenal response, but Matt Hodkinson’s idea to provide enhanced sports initiatives to schools ticked all the boxes.”

Clough and Company will support SportUnity by providing a year’s worth of free business advice, which will cover all aspects of running an small to medium sized enterprise.

Shafiq Khan, who leads Clough’s 121 Business Centre, added: “We want local entrepreneurs to buck the trend of the recession. SportUnity has the potential to grow into a thriving business, with an ethical focus that gives something back to the communities that invest in it and Clough and Company is proud to be a part of SportUnity’s development.”