Tuesday, 17 May 2016

17 support the Dragons Invitational Rugby 7's team

17 Sports Management Limited are proud and excited to announce our support of the Dragons Invitational 7's team. The Dragons provide internationally capped players, and those with the potential to play at international level, the opportunity to represent a competitive women's 7s team on the thriving UK circuit. "Having built our business and established our reputation working with talent in individual sports, we have been looking for an opportunity to get involved in team sports, like rugby, netball, football and cricket, said Ian Byers of 17 Management. " The Dragons are a young side, but one that is packed full of exciting talent and experienced 7s players who enjoy their sport. They match our company ethos and we look forward to working not just with individual players but the team as a whole" he added.

"At 17, we are firm believers in the benefits and values of womens sport, which gives outstanding opportunities for brands to increase their profile and achieve significant value. The involvement of companies like Kia with England womens cricket and SSE with their sponsorship of the Womens FA Cup at the top level are testament to this, but opportunities exist at all levels, as is shown by companies such as SIM Gear, Vita Coco and Outback's support of the Dragons. Womens sport continues to grow and it is building greater profile at national level, more women are participating in sport and spectator numbers continue to rise. It is a great time to be involved".

Speaking about the link, Dragons 7's Director of Rugby, Nigel Francis said, "I'm delighted that we are going to be working with 17, they represent a number of very high profile Olympic and Paralympic athletes and we are very lucky to be the first team they have chosen to represent. I think the link illustrates how far we have come as a brand and I look forward to seeing what the future holds with this exciting venture".

Watch out for the "17" logo on the Dragons shirts this season, at the following competitions in 2016;

14th May - Hartpury 7s - CHAMPIONS!
15th June - Newquay 7s
16th July - Valentines 7s (tbc)
6th August - Find Rugby Now 7s
4th June - Summer Social
18th June - Frome 7s (tbc)
2nd July - West Country 7s

For more information on the Dragons vist http://www.dragons7s.co.uk/ and follow them on Twitter @Dragons7s

#Rugby #GreenIsTheNewBlack #GoDragons

Friday, 6 May 2016

A balanced future for commercialism in sport

This article by Myak Homberger first appeared in Sports International Magazine.
Management companies have grown up very quickly over the last couple of years as women’s sport has seen exponential growth and women have been awarded full time contracts.

With the Olympics and Paralympics on the horizon the quest to sign up athletes is higher than ever before. I thought that it would be good to talk with Ian Byers founder and MD of 17 Sports Management Limited about their unique approach to sports management. What I have liked about Ian and his team from day one has been the care and value they place on the athlete and their wellbeing that far outstrips any financial value to them. It is this ethos that has bound women around the world for years as they have struggled to balance full time jobs and international careers.

Athlete’s need to train and focus on their sport, but they need money to compete and live yet for so many so much of their time is taken up with trying to be a businesswoman/administrator that they aren’t reaching their potential. What Ian and the team provide is an environment in which the athlete can focus on their training knowing that there are people putting their best interest at the fore and handling the business and administrative side of their lives for them.

Like so many involved in women’s sport Ian started in a voluntary capacity, helping and managing Paralympic gold medallist Hannah Cockroft MBE for 12 months. With a background in the corporate world and no previous experience in athlete management, Ian came to it with a completely different view and approach. As Ian explained “this was a good grounding as each decision was made with Hannah's best interest in mind, at all times, never what was best for me”. Good news spreads fast and soon people were asking for Ian to represent them and 17 Management was born with Ian and Hannah.
Hannah Cockroft MBE and Ian Byers
Ian describes the ethos of the company in a nutshell, “what is in the best interest of the athlete” he explained and expanded on what he sees as their role “we are a combination of minder, PA, secretary, defender, friend and shoulder to cry on”. To many it may seem that the role of the management company is to get sponsorship but as Ian explained it’s far more than that and it didn’t even feature in his above list which is a lot longer than most would expect of an agent. For a start they communicate with each athlete a few times each week about everything from how training is going, to how they are feeling, to the obvious of potential work. What might surprise many, is that as well as this, the key to any relationship 17 Management have with an athlete is that they spend significant time on increasing the athletes profiles. Ian is very clear that they want to be able to approach potential sponsors with athletes that have profile and are known. As Ian explained “this is the long game” when talking about this strategy and how they see their stable of athletes. The approach is simple, take talented athletes on, look after them and ensure that all their admin and business needs are taken care of. Then build awareness of them and increase their profile all whilst developing a relationship with them by being in contact very regularly so the team can understand the athlete inside out. Only at this point do Ian and the team start to look for sponsorship and revenue streams for the athlete. This is athlete centric management that builds for the future.

Sponsorship, appearances and speaking events are clearly the core of how 17 Management seek to bring revenue to the athlete’s. Its very easy to take a quick buck and run but Ian doesn’t want to do that, he wants to build a future that is sustainable for the athlete and this is of immeasurable value to them. Having known and worked with Ian for more than a year and seen how the business has grown and the athlete’s that I have had contact with via 17 Management, I can see first-hand how this approach is working and the benefits it brings. The athletes looked after by Ian and the team are just that, looked after and they know it and it is making the world of differences to them.
For me what is very revealing and sums up Ian and the 17 Management team is his reply when we speak about Rio and their role with their athletes in the build up to it and post Rio. Going into Rio his focus is on shielding them from the pressure of external expectation as well as too many media engagements that detract from their training. Post Rio Ian talked about manging the various issues that come from winning and losing “the value of difference between gold and silver is huge and yet the distance can be minimal, as little as .001 of a second in time.” For the winners Ian’s focus is on once again doing what is best for the athlete and not just accepting every lucrative offer that comes along. He is clear that in the post Rio euphoria the media and sponsorship interest will be huge and the team will be looking after and supporting the athlete to ensure they aren’t pressured into anything. This will include getting down time to recover, fulfil all their commitments and accepting financial deals that retain their core values. This is a tough challenge in a world that loves to maximise the money they can make as quickly as possible at the cost of the athlete, the antithesis of 17 Management.

For the athletes that “lose” and I use this in loose terms relative to gold, silver, bronze or no medal. My view is that just getting to Rio is an achievement but sport is measured in medals. As a subject this is very rarely dealt with and so I find it surprising that Ian mentions this in the same breath as the winning athletes and his focus post Rio. For these athletes Ian says “it’s about managing the disappointment and ensuring they don’t get forgotten” this comment alone for me shows the ethos and values that are in action. The conversation is always about the winners but there are those that trained as hard and are as committed but on the day didn’t get to that line 0.001 of a second faster than the next person. It’s for these athletes that people like Ian are good for them and why 17 Management is a good example for sports management, transcending the chase for money and winners.

People like Ian and the team at 17 Management are the measure with which management companies should be compared and I look forward to seeing the benefit of this in women’s sport around the globe.
This article is reproduced with kind permission of Sports International Magazine.