A career-ending injury and then a cancer diagnosis prompted footballer David Neill to turn his experiences into something positive and take back control of his life. A year on, and David is celebrating the first anniversary of launching his own football business. Based in Chelmsford, Essex, Neill Sports Ltd organises five and six-a-side football events for a wide range of age groups, including local schools in the area.

Setting up his own business has proved to be the perfect choice for David, combining his passion for football and the sense of freedom he gets of being his own boss. “After illness and injury, I realised I could combine my potential as an event organiser with my passion for football by organising five and six-a-side football events. I continue to be driven by my passion and experience in football. Fighting cancer was the reason I started a business and one of the highlights has been the feeling of being in control of my life again.”

David’s inspiring journey from footballer to becoming the owner of a successful business was made possible thanks to help from Nwes, a not-for-profit enterprise agency which provides business support, encourages enterprise, and helps turn business ideas into reality. With the backing of Nwes, including one-to-one business advice, David was able to get a start-up loan to buy his franchise.

Since launching Neill Sports Ltd in 2017, David has continued to grow his business and is already thinking about the future when he hopes to be able to take on staff. He also aims to become the largest franchise in the country, offering bespoke football events for large and small groups. Meanwhile, Nwes is continuing to help David achieve his goals and shape his business through its acclaimed Start & Grow programme.

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Following a career-ending injury and after being diagnosed with cancer, ex-footballer, David Neill decided to channel these experiences into something positive in order to take control of his life.

With his illness behind him but his passion for football undiminished, he began to explore the possibility of starting his own business.

We spoke to David about the freedom that being a business owner has given him, and how Nwes helped him to make the move.