Fun, Healthy & Inclusive football coaching & sport for young people

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Business Mentors

Mark Whitwood

Managing Director

In 1999 Mark was at Leeds Metropolitan University, studying a HND in Sport and Leisure Management and a BSc in Project Management. He began coaching at the age of 17 and gained valuable experience working for Leeds United and coaching in the USA.

Since launching active soccer in 2005, Mark began delivering the coaching programmes and was the driving force behind active soccer in the Sefton area, following the successful growth of the area a team of coaches were employed and were led by a Head Coach. Research had already begun on developing a franchise model that would be launched in the summer of 2008 after 3 years of planning.

Having experienced how to run and grow an area successfully Mark stepped back from directing the Sefton area in April 2010 and now focuses on the development of active soccer.

Keith Jordan

Business Mentor

Keith Jordan is a businessman who met Mark through the Prince's Trust. At the time Keith was Chairman of a number of private companies, but agreed to act as Mentor and Advisor to Mark when he launched Active Soccer. Keith was impressed with Mark's vision, business plan, and energy. Keith remained adviser to Active Soccer for a number of years from the very early stages through to the launch of the Active Soccer Franchise. Although not directly involved now due to other commitments, Keith maintains contact with Mark and continues to tale a close interest in the continued success of Active Soccer.

Active Education

We know each franchisee has individual strengths, qualities and ideas that they want to introduce, but we also understand that everyone will experience situations when they need advice. We make it clear to anyone when they purchase a franchise that help is always available via email or the telephone. We expect each franchisee to be motivated and committed to making their business a success and in return we recognise how important it is to provide all our Active Soccer franchisees with on-going personal and professional support. As evidence of our commitment to provide this support we have developed the concept of Active Education.

Active Education is a new and unique service offered by Active Soccer for franchisees to help them succeed with their business and ensure a quality service is provided to our core customers. We have put together a team of three highly qualified and experienced professionals from the education and training sector of the sport and leisure industry.

The current role of Active Education is as follows:

  • To consult with franchisees to agree and establish their personal and professional training needs.
  • To develop and deliver a two-year rolling programme of training days for franchisees. The programme provides franchisees with the opportunity to achieve our own ‘in-house’ qualification based on attendance and the successful completion of a series of assessments. The content of the programme remains flexible and can be adapted if required, but currently comprises the following units: Human Resource Management, Health and Safety, Marketing, Quality Management, Event Management, Customer Care, Financial Management and The active leisure environment and sports development.
  • To encourage the use of and sharing of ‘good practice’ amongst franchisees with the aim of developing a culture of teamwork within Active Soccer.

We are also considering a number of other issues related to education and training. Keep checking the site for details, as these will be announced as and when they are agreed and finalised.

The Active Education Team

Jim Johnson

Jim is the Managing Director of the Johnson Training and also Johnson Educational Consulting Ltd.

Johnson Training is a partner organisation of Knowsley Active Training Academy (KATA), which is a National Skills Academy.

He was formerly a Quality Assurance manager and a lecturer in Leisure Management at Liverpool Community College, where he managed the City and Guilds Higher Professional Diploma in Sport and Recreation Management and delivered management units on the Foundation Degree in Leisure and Tourism Management. Johnson Training continues to deliver the Higher Professional Diploma at the Halewood Leisure Centre in Merseyside. Johnson Training as an approved City and Guilds centre to deliver their higher education awards.

Jim is recognised as being one the top specialist trainers in the country for the delivery of swimming pool plant operator courses, having trained thousands of candidates over a twenty year period. He also written a number of publication in pool plant operation and also has written distance learning materials for a number of bodies including the National Extension College, for whom he is also tutors.

Jim held a number of positions with the ISRM and, until resigning in December 2010, was the longest serving officer on the ISRM NW Regional Executive, he was a past Regional President, a position he held for over five years.

Martin Steer

Martin is curently the Education Development Manager for the Institute of Sport and Recreation Management (ISRM) which is the leading professional body for professionals who operate and manage sports facilities in the UK. He has worked in this role for nearly ten years and is has been a member of the Institute since 1982. Now a Fellow F.Inst SRM (Hons), he has (prior to his current role) 20 years experience in leisure management (his last position was as Area leisure manager in the Vale of Glamorgan). Further he has 5 years teaching experience in Further Education (leisure related subjects) and has considerable experience in higher education (where he still continues to lecture part time).

Aditionally he runs training courses in events management and supervisory management to leisure operators , managers and sports development officers. His particular areas of interest include: Leisure operations, health and safety, human resource management (within leisure) and technical operations (e.g. swimming pools)

Martin is qualified with a degree in Applied chemistry, Diploma in management studies, Certificate and Diploma of the ISRM, NEBOSH certificate in Health and Safety. He is also a qualified FE teacher

Martin excels at being able to deliver training in the context of the real operational environment in which leisure staff actually work. he values practice (ie best practice) more than theory...and delivers training in a very engaging and consultative style. He is always ready and willing to support students and practioners through their learning, both on, and fater the formal training courses.

Jon Whitwood

Jon brings with him more than 30 years of experience of working in the sport and leisure industry to Active Education.

After graduating from London University, Jon initially worked for three years as a specialist PE teacher in secondary education before a career move took him into leisure facility management with Macclesfield Borough Council and then North East Derbyshire District Council.

His next move in 1984 was back into education. Awarding bodies were beginning to develop a new range of academic and vocational qualifications to prepare people to work in the sport and leisure industry. In addition to his main role of teaching further and higher education students, Jon served on the education and training board of The Institute of Sport and Recreation Management, became a Chief Examiner for City and Guilds developing new courses and producing assessments for their sport and leisure qualifications and worked as an examiner and moderator for several other awarding and professional bodies. Throughout his time in further and higher education he was responsible for work experience and developing training programmes for local employers.

In 2002 Jon left Derby University to concentrate on his work for awarding bodies. He is currently Chair of Examiners for new AQA and City and Guilds Sport and Active Leisure Diplomas.

Since 2005 he has taken a keen interest in Active Soccer. He believes that ‘Active Education will help to set Active Soccer apart from other similar organisations and that the franchisees will experience many benefits from the Active Education training programme’.

Accountany & Finance

Cobham Murphy

Cobham Murphy was established in 1990 to provide young and growing businesses with a quality, personal and timely service by creative, client-centered professionals.

We have quickly earned a reputation for astute tax advice and business guidance with an entrepreneurial flair.

Our growth to date has been largely due to a strong focus on what our clients want from their business advisers. You need to know what makes your business tick and we see it as part of our job to find that out.

Philip Harrison

A Chartered Accountant who qualified in 1988 Phil likes to work closely with his clients. His computer skills have been employed by one of the region´s largest independent firms as head of computer consultancy services, before joining Cobham Murphy in 1993. He is therefore naturally an advocate of using computers extensively in business - but more importantly, he makes the time to show his clients what can be possible, and helps them to realise their full potential. Phil also has particular expertise in property matters with over 50 clients in this sector.

Steve Nimmo

Steve joined Cobham Murphy in 1999 and has established himself as the company’s VAT manager. Steve is responsible for clients VAT affairs ranging from the completion of clients VAT returns along with offering bookkeeping advice. Steve has a proactive approach to sole traders, partnerships and small limited companies and can offer a wide range of assistance from setting up simple spreadsheets to completion of financial accounts.

Mark McKenna

Accountancy graduate from University of Liverpool and Chartered Accountant and Chartered Tax Advisor. Mark worked in Southport for four years at an independent firm before joining the tax department at Cobham Murphy in 2008.Primarily working with owner-managed businesses and small-to-medium enterprises to provide tax advice and compliance.

Day-to-day & Logistics

Gail Baillie

Gail ran her own business for over 19 years. In 2008 Gail decided to join active soccer, with a background in running a successful business and years of experienece in customer service her role is to help with the franchise administration and customer service in the active soccer office.

Design & Marketing


Cordial supply a range of web & digital services to Active Soccer - from the visitor-facing website to the completely bespoke Manager's Portal where many aspects of an Area's web content can be easily administered from.

Find out more at

Greystone Telecom

Greystone Telecom have worked with active soccer since 2006. Greystone Telecom have all the experience to work with you to enable you to deliver optimum solutions for your business, wherever communication is required. Greystone are responsible for helping franchisees with their telecom and broadband needs.

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