Friday, October 22, 2010

Are Entrepreneurs like Professional Footballers?

To Wembley Stadium Royal Box last night to attend a fundraiser for Street League, which changes lives through football. SL are an Impetus Trust investee and I was there are as Trustee. And what a good night. The power of football to do good is often forgotten amid all the money and madness.

My luck was in when I found myself sat next to ex Everton, Newcastle, Sunderland and England midfielder Paul Bracewell. If you know your 80s and 90s football, `Brace' will be a familar name, winning four league titles, a Cup Winners Cup and appearing in four cup finals.

When I had overcome my inital awe, we had a good chat about the game, how it was, how its changed and so on. He was an interesting man. Like all players of his time, the earnings were much lower and now he works in coaching. He doesn't begrudge current players their money, even when, as a teenage apprentice he spent most of his days cleaning boots and sweeping terraces.

What I noticed, talking to him, was that, he had, early on decided on the life he wanted and been willing to pay the price. For him this was particularly heavy, in a career blighted by injury and 18 operations, his wobbly knees earning him the nickname `Iceman' in his latter years.

But he played to 37, knowing this might affect his body in later life. And so it has. While fit and trim, he avoids impact exercise and is limited to stuff like golf and cycling. My bet is though that he wouldn't have traded any of those late seasons for anything.

Paying the price is something you know about if you're an entrepreneur too. You put your feet to the flame. You risk getting hurt and, on one level, it isn't rational. But you're driven and you do it. There's almost no choice. You resolve to make the sacrifice and you hunker down and do it. Professional sport is similar I sense. Except, like Paul, all that many walk away with is their memories.

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