Little Kickers: Learning through Play one Class at a Time

Fitness

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Out of all the sports played across the world, soccer is one game that has been ruling the hearts of millions. In terms of the participation rate, out of all the games, soccer is the most popular sport in Canada. According to a report submitted by Canadian Youth Sports, 767,000 children from ages 3-17 play organized soccer.

Little Kickers realizes that the way kids are treated and guided, either makes them or breaks them. With a deeper understanding of the nature of a child’s mind, Little Kickers is indeed on a mission to provide as many kids as possible with a positive introduction to sports in a friendly, pressure-free environment.

"Little Kickers’ mission is to provide as many kids as possible with a positive introduction to the sport,” Christine Kelly, Founder & Chairperson, Little Kickers.

Founded in London, England by Christine Kelly in the year 2002, Little Kickers has a diverse network of over 330 franchises across 33 countries with its franchisor head offices located in the U.K, India, and Canada. Since its establishment, apart from igniting enthusiasm for the sport, Little Kickers has been promoting a healthy attitude to life. 

It all started when Christine was working for JP Morgan as an investment banker and was struggling to strike a balance between her work and family. Frustration started peeking in due to being unable to dedicate time to her son Lukas who was then just two years old. She finally took some time off and soon discovered that her son had a passion for soccer. To hone his passion for it along with his friends, she set up soccer classes and it clicked. Today Little Kickers is well known as a home of pre-school soccer. 

The programs offered at Little Kickers have been developed by qualified coaches and specialist teachers of the British Football Association (FA) with an intention of successfully interweaving the basic soccer skills with valuable life skills such as color and number recognition, gross motor skills, sharing and taking turns. “Typically, a child attends one 45 minute class per week. There is a maximum of 18 children in each class and 2 coaches,” says Christine. “We also run classes in schools and nursery schools and run holiday courses and birthday parties.” Having categorized into four age groups: Little Kicks (18 months to 2.5 years), Junior Kickers (2.5 to 3.5), Mighty Kickers (3.5 to 5th birthday), and Mega Kickers (5-7th birthday), each age group works towards separate developmental goals. As Little Kickers understand the science and importance of motivation, kids are awarded badges to help encourage them.

Christine Kelly, Founder & Chairperson, Little Kickers.
Christine Kelly, Founder & Chairperson, Little Kickers.

Christine started Little Kickers as she was able to see many loopholes in the way the business was conducted. She wanted her business to be ethical, meaningful, and wanted it to have a huge positive impact on kids.

With interactive sessions, the programs are designed for kids of age group ranging from 18 months to 7 years with the aim to hone their age-appropriate skills. Parents too are made a part of the programs so that they are aware of their child’s development. Being a training institute itself, Little Kickers coaches have to undergo rigorous training themselves. They deploy a specialized technique called “Learning by stealth” in which kids are made to play imagination games where, without them consciously realizing, extensive developmental skills are embedded deep in their minds.

Christine started Little Kickers as she was able to see many loopholes in the way the business was conducted. She wanted her business to be ethical, meaningful, and wanted it to have a huge positive impact on kids. ‘‘It has been 18 years, and Little Kickers still continues to bring great joy and learning,” smiles Christine.

With very few companies operating at a global level, Little Kickers is clearly dominating the global pre-school soccer market. It is expanding globally by selling units into a few selected target markets like Germany, Spain, Mexico, and a bigger market like Japan where there is significant business potential. Along with growing globally, they are launching an initiative towards the end of 2020 to make Little Kickers the most Eco-friendly kids sports organization in the world. “In addition to switching our current production of over 100,000 polyester uniforms each year to yarn made from recycled ocean plastic, we are also developing a range of eco-friendly kids sportswear,” shares Christine. “The children who attend our classes will then be given the option of giving back their uniforms once they have finished with them, so they can be delivered to orphanages in South Africa, together with other kit and equipment, by Little Kickers coaches.  Local staff members at the orphanages will be trained on how to deliver the Little Kickers program and provided with all the kits and equipment they require.” 

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Digital transformation is vital for any business. It has become mandatory for business leaders to reconsider the old operating models and replace them with new ones. Becoming more experimental, and more agile in the ability to respond to customers and competitors is the key to success.

Digital transformation is vital for any business. It has become mandatory for business leaders to reconsider the old operating models and replace them with new ones. Becoming more experimental, and more agile in the ability to respond to customers and competitors is the key to success. Considering the importance of staying updated technologically, Little Kickers migrated to the Salesforce platform in 2019. With 330 franchises spread across 33 nations, moving on to a new platform is a mammoth task admits Christine. Since Salesforce does not offer monthly recurring payments, Little Kickers also developed an add-on technology in collaboration with an IT company. This enables them and their 330 franchises in staying up to date technologically. “Little Kickers will continue to support the growth of our existing network of franchisees by focusing on innovation and driving unit franchisee revenue,” affirms Christine. 

Being a Little Kickers franchisee is a different experience altogether. To be a franchisee, one needs to have the necessary business skills and the right attitude to run a business. Once the person is found to be eligible, they are good to go. The process is transparent and streamlined. As a mandate, franchise partners need to spend a minimum of 25 hours per week actually running their businesses. Once a franchise is appointed, they receive world-class IT support infrastructure to help them manage customer sign-up and related administrative processes. Franchise partners gain access to regularly updated online coaching resources, online marketing, and advertising materials, etc. They also enjoy discounted rates on Little Kickers branded kit and equipment, accountants, insurers etc. Along with access to third-party employment and health and safety advice 24/7. A dedicated customer support team member is also assigned for each franchisee with regular communications plus they are encouraged to participate via monthly franchisee forums to share ideas and collaborate. “With a proven system, the franchise who is dedicated enough and devotes 25 hours a week to their business will surely be successful,” says Christine. In a survey conducted at their annual conference in Oct 2019, 98% of Little Kickers franchisees said they would make the decision to purchase their Little Kickers franchise again. Having won the “Global Franchise awards 2020″ as Best Children’s and Education franchise, Little Kickers looks forward to continuing to dominate the pre-school soccer market.

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