Former pro footballer scores grants and advice to launch business during lockdown
A former professional footballer who decided to start a football coaching business for children during lockdown was relieved to discover that plenty of support was available to help him get his business established.
Nathan Craig, from Caernarfon, joined Everton at 12 years of age, eventually becoming a first-year scholar in 2008. During the 2008/09 season he became a regular in Everton’s Under-18s team, progressing to the reserves in 2009/10 where he became a regular the following season. In December 2009 he made his competitive first-team debut. He later joined Torquay United, making 47 appearances before leaving in 2014, and then played at Caernarfon Town for several years before leaving to join Flint Town United.
Now working full time at Ysgol Syr Huw Owen, Nathan decided to start his business, Pêl-Droed Nathan Craig Football, mid-lockdown in summer 2020. Through his business, Nathan provides football training through the medium of Welsh to young people in and around Caernarfon – but he is also able to extend the service throughout Wales by using Zoom.
Why did Nathan decide to start a business during lockdown?
“I had a lot of time to myself at home and I've got a passion for football,” he explains. “I wanted to give the valuable experience I've had over the years back to the area's children.”
Starting a new business at any time has its challenges – but during lockdown it was particularly challenging. Thankfully, plenty of support – both financial and practical - was available, and Nathan received help from a number of agencies.
“I had a grant through Sports Wales to help towards football equipment to start the business,” Nathan says. “I also received a small grant from Caernarfon Town Council to help me buy an iPad so that I could hold training sessions over Zoom during lockdown. I also had a lot of help from Llwyddo'n Lleol/Menter Môn.”
The support Nathan received ranged from financial support and advice to general business advice from organisations with many years of business expertise that he could draw from. He also received support from Business Wales.
Football being very much a social game, how did Covid affect Nathan’s business?
“Covid affected every business,” he says. “But everyone had to adjust their way of thinking and working, so I did a lot of ‘ball master skills’ Zoom sessions. And, because the sessions were through the medium of Welsh, there were children joining from Cardiff, Swansea and Llanelli too.”
Now that lockdowns have eased off and people are able to mix more freely, how has Nathan’s business changed?
“It’s very busy,” he says. “I could be busier, but I’ve got a full time job at Ysgol Syr Hugh Owen in Caernarfon, so I’m trying to do as much as I can.”
Nathan’s future plans for his business include employing 3-4 additional football coaches on a full-time basis, which will ease some of Nathan’s workload while helping him to continue to provide this valuable service to children in the Caernarfon area.