WHO ARE YA? Joanna Fisher, Head of Operations at Bollo Football School of Excellence

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Joanna Fisher, Head of Operations at Bollo Football School of Excellence

1) Who are ya?

I am Joanna Fisher, I have lived in London all my life and know it like the back of my hand. I love the versatility and diversity of the Capital. I love the banter and the people who come from all walks of life and enjoy life! I love communicating whether talking or writing. I also spend a lot of time with family in Italy on the coast. I absolutely love it there.

2) Who do you support?

I am a third generation Arsenal supporter, my late grandfather who was from near Camden and my father who was Sports Editor of the Daily Mirror for many years left me with no choice but to support the Gunners. For a short while my father lived in the same road as Highbury and I grew up fully in the world of football.

3) What was your first game?

I was first taken to Highbury when I was four years old! Rather shamefully I have never been to the Emirates as I am always too busy, although one of the greatest Arsenal players who I know did invite me recently.

4) What do you do for a job?

I am Head of Operations at Bollo Football School of Excellence. It has been running as a successful community football club in West London for over 13 years with the aim of getting less privileged kids off the streets, coached and playing in leagues. They get some help from charities including Help a London Child. They have mentors and in the whole time it has been running only 3 have got into crime which is amazing. Some of the kids have gone on to play semi pro and pro also. It is always a huge bonus to discover talent which I enjoy doing a bit of scouting.

I was headhunted in the summer this year to take things to another level with the introduction of more structured coaching, fixtures at semi pro and pro academies, we recently played against Reading FC Academy our U12 who were buzzing at the experience and how well they were welcomed. I am also helping to set up Post 16 courses so the kids are given a good start in life with education like BTEC and NVQ whereas they may not be doing so well in school or supported at home.

We have been talking to teams and clubs abroad also to create tournaments and exchanges which is such an exciting opportunity. The job keeps me so busy but I absolutely love the fact we are working hard to support those less well off in the community.

The man who set up Bollo, Huey Reid is amazing. He has devoted 13 years to helping the kids in West London and they and I all respect him enormously in the community. He has put his heart and soul into community football and I respect him enormously.

5) Have you played/worked for any football clubs?

I have never worked for any clubs but most days I am communicating with contacts at various clubs and spreading the word about Bollo or dashing about to meetings.

6) How did you get into it?

I was working at another football academy which I helped to set up and scout kids from London into professional coaching and fixtures including Charlton, Reading, Sunderland and Manchester City. I enjoyed getting to know all the kids and families and watch them live the dream. Everyone wants to be a footballer. It is their passion. But it goes without saying that it is so important to keep the kids realism in touch and support their education and career as so few actually make it. I spend hours with the families supporting them.

7) What do you get out of it?

I love working in football. Seeing the kids turn up and forget their problems while they live out their passion. Football is a real leveller in society. I have met so many amazing people who are passionate about youth development and its importance in the game. How it needs to be updated in the UK and more investment made into our home-grown players of the future. The talent is out there in this country. It just needs to be found early enough and structured coaching given and experience playing regular games through the teens so our players can rival European and other foreign young players that get snapped up by the big clubs.

8) What advice would you give someone wanting to follow in your stud marks/footsteps?

I would always advise people to think long and hard about what job they really feel passionate about so that it never feels like hard work! Hard work and thinking outside the box, putting in the extra effort and enjoying it is so important.

9) If you could do it all again what would you change?

If I could do it all again I would possibly have got more qualifications! But my love of communication seems to have helped me along the way.

10) Who’s your footballing hero?

Pele. Simply a fantastic player but also a great humanitarian.

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