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Pro Futures Soccer School is top of the league

PUBLISHED: 08:56 07 September 2012

Simon Copley and Rhys Irani

Simon Copley and Rhys Irani

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To make a living from your passion is a privilege and none appreciate this more than football coach Simon Copley.

Six years ago the 37-year-old couldn’t have imagined his business becoming the largest soccer school in the county.

Now 1,000 children a week across 70 primary schools and sports clubs receive expert tuition in P.E. lessons, after- school sessions and weekend workshops.

Former Dartford player Simon, born and bred in the town, built Pro Futures Soccer Schools on the back of his own extensive football career.

The UEFA licence holder is the head of Dartford Football Club’s academy, developing players for the first team, and works as an under-12s coach at West Ham United, the team he supports.

His career has meant working alongside the likes of current Celtic manager Neil Lennon, former England striker Chris Sutton and retired Chelsea centre-half Winston Bogarde.

Pro Futures has just received an award from the Kent Football Association for becoming the first school to achieve the gold charter standard for excellence in providing soccer training to children.

“With the award and the personal honours I have achieved, plus having the enviable job of coaching at the two clubs I love, I know I am very fortunate,” says Simon. “I am the second luckiest man in the world. It’s best to earn a living from playing but that didn’t quite work out for me. Still, I get to chuck on a football kit and head to work. I can’t complain at all.”

Other entrepreneurs could be forgiven for feeling jealous when they hear how smoothly establishing the business was.

“It was easy from day one. I am very honest. Things are black and white with me so my reputation with schools spread once I’d gained their trust. We have had competition come and go but we’ve always shook it off. We understand what people want. You shouldn’t run a business to make money, you should drive it from passion.”

The father-of-two, of West Hill Park, is more than happy to heap praise on his staff of 40 and the three other directors who run the company with him – his wife Genene, Daniel White and Catherine Fitzpatrick.

“This is a collaborative effort. I am the face of the company and I own it but everyone here is brilliant. We only employ people who care about football,” he says.

The business continues to grow. Last year it bought out Evolution Sports, inheriting its staff and doubling the size of the organisation, which now has centres in Dartford, Bexleyheath, Eltham, Strood and Gillingham.

Simon shows no sign of slowing – he works seven days a week to ensure Pro Futures stays at the top of the game.

“I am a businessman who has never taken his football boots off. I get to walk around work with a big smile on my face.”

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