With the average football career lasting 8 years, most professional players will need to plan for a secondary career. The Education and Coaching departments at the PFA provide access to a variety of courses to help support current and former players prepare for life off the pitch.
Kenna Ngoma has been a recipient of the PFA’s support while studying for his undergraduate degree in Business Management at the University of Gloucestershire. Last seen on The Apprentice, Kenna spent 4 years in the academy at Manchester City before signing scholarship papers at Barnsley.
Sadly, a longer than expected injury forced Kenna out of the game but ultimately led him to Lord Sugars’ boardroom and the start of his entrepreneurial career. This Global Entrepreneurship Week, we caught up with Kenna to find out what he’s been up to since football, and what running your own business is really like.
Hi Kenna, what was it like being on The Apprentice?
It was a really good experience and I wouldn’t trade it in for anything. It’s been interesting for me as a viewer, because I know who has gone out and when, but I didn’t know how it had all unfolded. Seeing where they went wrong has been a good watch, but I can definitely say there are a couple of people who are still in the running by the skin of their teeth.
Did your football background help you in the tasks?
Yes. I think years of playing football has given me a mental toughness which helped me to feel confident in the boardroom. I always tried to stay focused and think ahead and anticipate what Lord Sugar or the other contestants might say. I remember coming into the task I got fired on, using a football strategy to plan who I wanted where and why, to make sure everyone was playing to their strengths. I did place everyone where they should’ve been, but unfortunately, they didn’t do what I needed them to do in order to win the task.
What made you start your own business?
When I was at Manchester City we used to train twice a week, and I remember my dad saying, ‘You need to make sure you get your GCSE’s, otherwise I’ll pull you out of football’. Therefore, having a back-up plan was important to me.
Business was always my favourite subject, and so when I was released from Barnsley I went on to study Business Management. Once I graduated, I worked in Finance for a couple of years where I learnt a lot about business, before deciding to start my own company.
Starting up Beaumonde Desserts hasn’t been easy because of the regulations that come with the food and drink industry. The alcohol element to our products makes it even trickier, but we’re working with a manufacturer to launch the business early next year. We’re taking a different direction to my initial plans when going on the show, but I’m excited for what’s coming.
How have the PFA supported you along the way?
The PFA helped me with all the funding for my university course, and I am so grateful for their support. I had such a nightmare sorting out my student loan and it was so stressful, but I spoke to someone at the PFA, who told me not to worry. Following my conversations with the PFA, it was all sorted out within a week. I would recommend every player to get in touch with the PFA for help, joining up was the best investment I’ve ever made.
What advice would you give to any budding entrepreneurs?
Research, research, research! I used to always watch The Apprentice and Dragons Den and think people can start a business within 2 or 3 months. I had to learn how naïve that was the hard way! You can have really good days but also some bad ones when things don’t work out how they should. Thorough research helps you to understand exactly what you’re trying to do and you appreciate how much easier it makes running a business down the line. I’d also say take your time - if you rush, you’re more likely to regret your decisions.
Any current or former professional football player can access financial support for an accredited course via the PFA. Find out more about Education options here.