Francis Duku - Founder and CEO
Some of you may know me, but for those who don't, hopefully you soon will. My name is Francis Duku, and I am the Founder and CEO of "Our Game". I have played in semi-professional football all of my adult career and am proud to say it has been a long, relatively successful and enjoyable one.
Like so many footballers, as an aspiring youngster, I couldn't get enough of the game, leading me to represent my school, district and county, as well as various other levels of the school boy game to a high enough standard that allowed me to start dreaming about making a career within the professional game. At the relatively late age of 17, I was offered an extended trial with the well respected West Ham United Youth Academy, before later signing youth team forms at Reading for the final year of what was then known as the YTS Scheme.
Whilst at Reading, I combined playing at South East Counties level, with full time education at college, going on to captain the Reading youth team and gain A-level qualifications to a good enough standard to gain entry to a leading redbrick university. Disappointingly, I did not get the chance to sign professional terms with West Ham, Reading, or anywhere else, so instead, I went to university and ended up pursuing a playing career in the non league game from the age of 18 which has been something I have really enjoyed and do not regret.
Within the world of non league football, I went on to play for a range of clubs throughout the pyramid, making over 500 appearances (with that figure continuing to rise). My achievements within the game have seen me win a league title at non league's second tier, and multiple local, regional and county cups, three promotions, representative honours (including degrees of England recognition), captaining several sides, and selection for touring squads to countries such as Japan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Gambia and Tanzania, but also suffer the disappointment of being a play off runner up three times. To top all of this, I was continually linked with moves into various levels of the professional game right up until the age of 28.
Dean Forbes - Non Executive Director
An aspiring professional footballer who quickly became an internationally renowned business leader is the best way of describing Dean Forbes's career to date. Dean started off his career in earnest as a junior at Crystal Palace where he played throughout their youth system but was ultimately unable to earn the level of contract he required. He was then offered an opportunity to join Northampton Town, which he took, and went on to play his football there becoming captain of the reserve team in the process. Unable to force his way into the first team, and without a worthwhile contract offer on the table, Dean took the inevitable step and commenced his career in non league football.
Over a ten year period, Dean went on to play extensively in the Ryman League circles and became a well known and popular figure while making hundreds of appearances. Over the course of his career he has played for Gravesend and Northfleet, Tooting and Mitcham, Molesley, Beckenham Town, Bromley and Redhill, captaining Bromley and also managing Redhill. At his peak, he also went on to gain two international caps for Guyana, scoring a goal in the process.
Perhaps most impressively, Dean was able to combine his football with the establishment and growth of a quite brilliant business career. He had worked for a number of prestige firms enjoying rapid growth and development in his career resulting in senior management status, before he ended up taking on complete responsibility for the business outside of the Americas of Primavera Systems (a Philadelphia based Enterprise Project and Portfolio Management company) before he had turned 30. This was no mean feat considering they were an international market leader in their field. Under his leadership, Primavera proceeded to record exceptional results before being bought by the software giant Oracle in 2008.
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Whether it's a major source of income or simply a hobby, football can be extremely tough on mind and body alike!
This unique guide from veteran semi-professional footballer Francis Duku, will explain how the support of a footballing union, and the creation of a nationwide community for all involved in the game at the grassroots levels, be it player, manager, fan or otherwise, could transform your experience of the beautiful game!
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