This project is part funded by Invest Northern Ireland and the European Regional Development Fund under the Investment for Growth & Jobs Northern Ireland (2014-2020) Programme

Sports coaches fine winning formula with Skill School NI

DATE: 24/09/18

COUNCIL AREA: Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council

ENTERPRISE AGENCY: Roe Valley Enterprises Ltd


Two highly respected sports coaches from the North West have turned their passion for coaching children and young people into their very own business with the support of the Go For It Programme, through Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council.

The Go For It Programme is part-funded by Invest Northern Ireland and the European Regional Development Fund under the Investment for Growth & Jobs Northern Ireland (2014-2020) Programme.

Paul Dixon from Ballykelly and Joe Gray from Eglinton established Skill School NI in September 2016 after deciding to use their collective coaching experiences to follow their dreams of running a sports coaching business.

Skill School NI specialises in delivering structured coaching sessions in multiple sports including football, rugby, basketball, tennis and many more to children, aged 4-12 years old, in a fun, safe and inclusive environment. Each coaching session aims to help children develop new skills, build confidence and stay healthy.

The coaching providers also work with local schools in the North West to offer students, male and female, aged 16-19 the chance to gain Level 3 Sports Coaching and Fitness qualifications (equivalent of 3 A Levels) alongside weekly work experience.

Paul Dixon is a UEFA A Licenced coach and worked as a Football coach at Southampton Football Club for several years. Before that he studied Sports Coaching and Development at Southampton Solent University as well as working as a sports coach in the USA.

Joe Gray is an ex Irish League footballer, who had a distinguished career representing Coleraine, Ballymena United, Institute and Limavady, before retiring in 2016. He is a UEFA A Licenced coach and a qualified physical education teacher who has worked as a Primary School Coach for the Irish FA for a number of years.

Skill School NI is now thriving...the feedback from teachers, parents and carers has been absolutely fantastic

Paul Dixon, Owner and Director at Skill School NI said: “Joe and I had met on a number of occasions doing various coaching courses and we both share the same philosophy towards coaching children and young people. So, when we sat down and took the decision to work together, we focused on developing a multi-sports model that would ensure we introduced as many children as possible to a variety of sports, and that every coaching session we delivered would be fun professional and inclusive for all ability levels.

“That’s when we contacted the Roe Valley Enterpise Agency to explore our options and see what we needed to do to launch our very own coaching business. Our business advisor Joanne Miller took us step by step through the process of the Go For It programme and what we needed to do to get our business up and running. She helped us pull together a personalised business plan, which provided us with the framework to get out there and make it happen.

Schedule an appointment with your local Business Advisor and get started today.

“Skill School NI is now thriving and we have employed an additional full-time coach, as well as a number of part-time coaches, to help us meet the demand from schools across the North West. The feedback from teachers, parents and carers has been absolutely fantastic and we can’t thank them enough for their support. We are oversubscribed regularly on our holiday camps, which is another positive sign that kids are enjoying our sessions.

“We have exciting plans ahead, which will include hiring additional full-time coaches and expanding into the Greater Belfast area, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for Skill School NI.”

The Go For It programme is delivered free of charge by a team of experienced business mentors through Northern Ireland’s wide network of enterprise agencies. It provides expert advice and help with developing a robust business plan to help turn ideas into a commercial enterprise.

Joanne Miller, Business Advisor with Roe Valley Enterprises Ltd in Limavady said; “Paul and Joe are two very talented sports coaches, and now talented business people. What they have achieved to date with Skill School NI is testament to their passion, hard work and commitment to introducing as many children as possible to a variety of sports.”

“They came to me with a clear idea and we worked together to develop a business plan that would help them transfer their talent for coaching into a viable business. It’s great to see Skill School NI doing so well and with Joe and Paul coaching so many children, it might not be too long before they help unearth the next Jonny Sexton, Ronaldo or Le Bron James.”


If you have a business idea you’d like to develop or if you are thinking about starting a business call 0800 027 0639 or visit: visit


call 0800 027 0639 or click here