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MEET THE FOUNDER

 
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EMMANUEL AFOLABI

Founder & CEO

Emmanuel grew up in Newham borough, East London and attended an all-boy school in Forest Gate called St Bonaventure’s. During his adolescence he was privileged to play football for an elite academy called Charlton Athletic FC. Having grown up in a deprived community, Emmanuel was fortunate to be occupied by football on the weekends which kept him disciplined and reduced the likelihood of him getting involved in criminal activity and postcode gang wars. Sadly, Emmanuel recognised a lot of his school friends didn’t have the same opportunity and were prone to hanging with the wrong crowd. This outside involvement would transcend into the classroom and he noticed massive changes in the behaviour of his friends at the time. Due to his sporting abilities Emmanuel received several sports personality awards during his time at school. Teachers quickly realised he was a role model for younger students was given the title of deputy head boy in year 11.

 
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SHATTERED DREAMS

At age 12 Emmanuel was offered a 4-year contract until age 16 alongside his former teammate Joe Gomez of Liverpool FC and England. At age 15 Emmanuel was then offered a full time 2-year post-16 scholarship at Charlton where he stayed until he was 18. Unfortunately, Emmanuel wasn’t offered a professional contract at the end of his 2-year scholarship, he quickly saw his dreams shattered in front of him having been at Charlton for 9 years.

 
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A LONELY PERIOD

This was a lonely period for Emmanuel as the club he thought had his back left him alone to fend for himself, he claims “there wasn’t enough support at the time and there still isn’t, many scholars go through the same thing every year.” Luckily Emmanuel had a family member who graduated around the same time and secured a graduate role as a civil engineer. He decided to embark on a career in STEM and studied Civil Engineering at the University of East London.

 
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TRANSFERRABLE SKILLS

Emmanuel picked up a lot of transferrable skills during his footballing years such as hard work, dedication, time management and discipline. Emmanuel said “I almost quit in the first year because I didn’t feel university was for me, but I kept my head down and followed through it.” He used these transferrable skills to get through 5 years of university securing himself an industrial placement year as a trainee civil engineer and worked for the same company part time during his final year. This placement year allowed Emmanuel to acquire the necessary experience required for a post graduate role.

 

MAKING A DIFFERENCE

Emmanuel graduated and landed a job with one of the world's top engineering design firms as a civil engineer. Now Emmanuel wants to use his life experience to make a difference and set an example for young people from deprived communities and football scholars. He said, “I have friends that I went to school with that are now dead or in jail because there weren’t enough opportunities to engage with young people and show them the correct path. These kids need a role model, someone that talks or looks like them to give them something to aspire to.” In 2021, Emmanuel founded The Fest Hub with hopes of making a difference by connecting football and STEM to young people from deprived backgrounds, young football scholars and other sports individuals.