A smart-thinking entrepreneur has leveraged the global phenomenon of five-a-side football to start a business that’s growing almost as fast as the game itself.
As Adam Fine, founder of Fives Futbol explains: “Five-a-side football is the fastest-growing form of football in the world. In the UK roughly 200 000 people play every week and the two market leaders who run five-a-side pitches in the UK are both listed. It’s played on all-weather purpose-built synthetic grass facilities which are about a quarter of the size of a traditional football pitch. It’s more accessible than conventional soccer.”
Recognising the success of fives football in foreign countries, others have tried to launch the concept in South Africa and failed. Fine’s model is slightly different and includes a strong focus on corporate social investment and delivering a positive social impact.
By forming smart strategic partnerships he’s managed to open Fives Futbol pitches in prime locations that serve both the school and corporate markets, while still being accessible for social impact interventions in local communities.
One such partner is Rabie Construction, which paved the way for the Century City site. Other sites include those in Mouille Point, Tableview, the V&A Waterfront and two in Sunningdale. A partnership with Liberty Properties will see a new site opening in Mitchells Plain.
Fine has also signed a deal with Discovery Soccer Park, the only other major local competitor. Future ventures will be split 50/50 and will come under the Fives Futbol brand. “This deal makes us the market leader and opens up opportunities for considerable growth in the rest of South Africa and Africa.”
It’s a great deal for someone who started the business at only 17 when he was studying in the UK. “I ran it from the UK initially and that was really challenging, but being young my attitude was always, ‘What have I got to lose?’
I saw an opportunity and did all I could to get in front of the influential people in the industry – from talking my way into major football conferences for free to sneaking into VIP boxes. Where there’s a will and a good business idea, I believe there’s always a way.”
One of the key things we’ve done differently is to pick our locations very carefully. Many people who have tried to launch five-a-side pitches in South Africa chose schools, but schools are based on council land which means a lot of red tape.