Fighting fit for Xtra knockout success

Since the announcement last month of the merger between Sports Xtra, the leading children’s physical activity provider, and A-Star Sports, the award-winning multi-sports specialist, the network has launched three new franchises.

Local franchise partner Kelly Morgan set the bar high, celebrating a year as an inspirational role model in sport and business with an application for her professional boxing license.

New to the network are John Polak (Cirencester), Alan Beard (University of Gloucestershire) and Claire Thorby (Living Sport Coaching HQ), confirming the success of a strategy for business development through traditional franchise channels as well as creative partnerships.

Polak has extensive business experience through roles in international business development and is looking to bring this and his passion for sports and physical activity together through his business. Polak is a former sports development professional and teacher who is currently employed at the University of Gloucestershire. A key part of his remit is to manage a Sports Xtra franchise through the University, lead on the development of opportunities for its students and build innovative links through this unique combination of roles. Thorby leads on the development strategy that brings Living Sport, a local sports charity and the County Sports Partnership for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, and Sports Xtra together.

Just over a year into developing her franchise business in Swindon, Kelly Morgan continues to bring the focus and discipline from 12 years in the military, including operational tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a year in Qatar as a personal trainer to a Sheikh’s family, which has provided her with the flexibility to pursue her passion for sport at an elite level. Morgan explains: "Boxing and business are very well aligned. To succeed at both you need to be passionate, disciplined and robust. If you can align your mind, body and spirit towards your goals, relentlessly and fiercely your arm will ultimately be raised in victory."

Such positive drive, energy and enthusiasm come from having already competed internationally in netball and athletics, including being a Commonwealth bronze medallist (Manchester, 2002) and British record holder for Javelin.

Morgan explains: “When I first came to franchising, I had very little business experience and so the huge support network and having somebody to pick up the phone and speak to was worth its weight in gold. And there is lots and lots of good practical stuff – social media support, national marketing campaigns, a team to run the website and take bookings, plus support in the day-to-day running of the business. The most important thing for me is that the business is growing month by month and I can balance this with my passion for sport.”