E S F Events

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by E S F Events's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from E S F Events is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett, MP
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles, MP


Director Martyn Young
Sue Smith, Matt Le Tissier
and John Barnes at ESF
Founded in 1988, ESF Events is a leading specialist sports
tour operator within the UK. Based in Melton Mowbray,
its events have been attended by more than one million
people in just over 30 years, and the business has established
partnerships with elite clubs and sporting facilities including
Leicester Tigers, Leeds Rhinos and St George’s Park. Director
Martyn Young discusses how the business has modernised its
approach to deliver unforgettable sporting experiences of the
highest quality to grassroots sports teams.
The business was established in 1988 by my father, Alan Young, with the support
of my mother, Lucille Young, and it remains a family-run business to this day. The
idea for the business came after Alan was tasked with organising a tour to Butlin’s
for the local youth football club that his four sons played for. On the back of a
successful tour, Alan decided to stage a youth football festival at Butlin’s Bognor
Regis and to open the event up to other clubs. More than 100 teams and 3,500
people from all over the UK attended the inaugural event in 1989. The following
year, three further venues were added and more than 8,500 people attended, and
the business flourished from there. In 2000, my brother Russell and I joined the
business full-time and our parents took on more of an executive role.
Welcoming thousands from around the UK
Today, we employ seven full-time members of staff, expanding to a team of 120
event organisers and seasonal staff when the festivals take place. In addition,
teams of professional first aiders, photographers, referees and caterers attend
»Director: Martyn Young
»Founded in 1988
»Based in Melton Mowbray
»Services: Sports tour operator
»No. of staff: 7
ESF Events
Highlighting best practice
the events. We currently stage ten
residential events a year, which take
place throughout April and May at
four Butlin’s and Haven resorts across
the UK.
The ESF Festival of Football, or ESF
2019, is the UK’s biggest youth
football football festival, with 1,200
teams attending. There are seven
festivals throughout the UK, followed
by our champions’ event at St
George’s Park, the training centre for
the England national teams.
Our rugby union festival, the Tigers
Challenge, is staged in partnership
with Leicester Tigers and involves two
festivals that are attended by more
than 250 rugby teams.
The Rhinos Challenge takes place in
partnership with Leeds Rhinos and is
the UK’s biggest youth rugby league
festival, with 170 teams participating.
In total, more than 1,600 grassroots
youth sports teams take part in our
festivals each year, which equates to
over 50,000 attendees.
Comprehensive and
professional events
A key to our success is our desire
to constantly improve the festival
experience for the children, coaches
and family members who attend.
We aim to deliver a professional-
level touring experience to grassroots
Our long-term partnerships with
Butlin’s and Haven resorts give us
a highly regarded residential base
for our events. Butlin’s and Haven
have consistently reinvested in
their resorts, providing a range of
quality accommodation alongside
superb leisure facilities and
Working with closely selected partners,
including Leicester Tigers, Leeds
Rhinos, St George’s Park and the
NSPCC, has also further enhanced the
professional reputation and delivery
of our events. At each event, we
also stage professionally produced
presentation ceremonies to close the
festival, attended by sporting legends.
Football guests have included Kevin
Keegan, Robert Pires, Ian Wright and
John Barnes. Leicester Tigers stars
Neil Back, Tom Croft and George
Ford and Leeds Rhinos players Kallum
Watkins, Jamie Jones-Buchanan and
Ryan Hall have all attended. Meeting
a role model within the game is a tour
highlight for many children who attend
our festivals.
We’ve also worked hard to develop
and support girls’ football. England
internationals Casey Stoney and Sue
Smith are ESF ambassadors of girls’
football and we’ve seen the number
of girls participating rise significantly
in recent years. Over 200 girls’ teams
participated in ESF 2019, which is a
record. Looking further at improving
1,600 youth sports
teams participating
In total, more
than 1,600
youth sports
teams take
part in our
festivals each
year, which
equates to
over 50,000
the accessibility of our events, we were
delighted to host our first event for
pan-disability teams in 2018.
We embrace technology wherever
possible, including the recent
development of new apps for each
event. Our interactive apps allow
players to set a profile and view
fixtures, live results and tables. The
apps offer links to the official event
photographs and include social media
functions, such as adding event filters
to photos and sharing fixtures and
results. As part of our online outreach,
we have an active Facebook, Instagram
and Twitter presence during festivals
that enables participant interaction.
As our events have grown in popularity
and the business has become more
successful, we have reinvested profits
to ensure we continue to improve
the experience. In 2019 we took the
event photography in a new direction,
enlisting the services of professional
sports photographers from the Premier
League and Scottish Premiership. The
focus of the photography shifted from
profit making to providing high-end
imagery for grassroots teams.
We were proud to be recognised at
the 2018 Sports Business Awards and
the 2018 Football Business Awards,
winning silver and bronze respectively
in the Best Business Serving Sport, in
the fewer than 20 employees category.
We were also delighted to receive
the Corporate Partner of the Year –
Midlands award at the 2018 NSPCC
Childhood Champions Awards.
The scope to expand
Our growth has been strong in recent
years and, when coupled with the
investment we place in our offering
year on year, we remain confident
about the future of our business
model. While we have no direct
involvement with the government,
the FA, SYFA, RFU and RFL have been
supportive of our work.
The premium nature of our product
and the innovation we bring to each
event set us apart from competitors in
the UK market. Demand is currently
outstripping supply, with all festivals
selling out and hitting capacity in
2019. We’re excited to explore the
possibility of further expansion in
future years with our key partners. We
will continue to provide high-quality
touring experiences to grassroots
teams of all abilities, experiences that
children will remember with their
teammates and families for years
The premium
nature of our
product and
the innovation
we bring to
each event
sets us apart
competitors in
the UK market
Tom Croft and Ben
White at the 2019 Tigers


This article was sponsored by E S F Events. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Michael Gove.

Rt Hon Michael Gove's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Michael Gove

This year's Parliamentary Review comes at a momentous time for parliament, as we collectively determine the destiny of the United Kingdom. 

On October 31, the UK will leave the European Union. The successful implementation of this process is this government's number-one priority.

Three years after a historic referendum vote, we will deliver on the decisive mandate from the British people. Trust in our democracy depends on it. Until that final hour, we will work determinedly and diligently to negotiate a deal, one that abolishes the backstop and upholds the warm and close relationship we share with our friends, allies and neighbours in the EU. But in the event that the EU refuses to meet us at the table, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.

As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it is my job to lead on this government's approach, should that scenario happen. Preparing for Brexit is my department's driving mission. But while I am leading this turbocharged effort, the whole of government is committed to this endeavour.

Ministers across Whitehall are working together to ensure that every possibility is considered, every plan is scrutinised and every provision is made. A daily drumbeat of meetings means that we are holding departments accountable, so that preparations are completed on time.

The chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available. And we have mobilised thecivil service, assigning 15,000 of our most talented civil servants to manage our exit from the EU.

We will make sure that on November 1, there is as little disruption to national life as possible. Our trade relationships will continue to thrive, thanks to agreements with countries around the world worth £70 billion. Our country will remain secure, thanks to nearly 1,000 new officers posted at our borders. And the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us can remain confident, with absolute certainty, of their right to remain in the UK.

Above all, our goal is to be transparent. Soon, we will launch a public information campaign so that citizens, communities and businesses are ready and reassured about what will happen in the event of “no deal”.

In my first few weeks in this role, I have travelled to ports and tarmacs, borders and bridges, all across the UK –from the seaside of Dover to the rolling green hills of County Armagh. I have heard from business owners and border officials, farmers and hauliers. They are ready to put an end to uncertainty. And they are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

Our departure from the EU will be a once in a lifetime chance to chart a new course for the United Kingdom. Preparing for that new course will be a herculean effort. But this country has made astounding efforts before. We can do it again.
Rt Hon Michael Gove
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster