One of our three incoming directors, Andy Gowland has spoken for the first time since winning the election back in October.
Andy is the Group Head of Partnerships at Right to Dream, a global football network of academies and pro football which is leading the strategy and creation of purpose-driven partnerships and sponsorships across the organisation.
Right to Dream have a residential football academy in Ghana and will soon be launching an academy in Egypt next year. In 2016 the organisation bought FC Nordsjaelland (99%), a Danish men’s Superligaen team, who currently sit top of the table.
Talking about what Right to Dream stands for, Andy shared: “It champions finding young talent across communities who have not necessarily had the opportunity to be seen.
“Right to Dream empowers and inspires the world through sport for good, which inspired me to want to be involved with Lewes FC and do whatever I can to help create opportunities that supports our people across the club to access different experiences and grow as individuals”
Talking about some of the successes that have come out of from Right to Dream and FC Nordsjaelland: “Over the last few years, we have seen Mohammed Kudus join Ajax for over £16 million, Simon Adingra join Brighton and Hove Albion who was then loaded out to their sister club in Belgium, Mikkel Damsgaard go to Sampdoria and then to Brentford – the model around helping young talent go beyond football works and is developing future leaders in this world, both within and outside of the game.”
Speaking about when he found out he had won the election, Andy said: “I was blown away when I found out! There was a strong roster of applicants and everyone brought something different, from academic backgrounds on sustainability in terms of Willa [Bailey], to what Tim [Bradshaw] brings in terms of his people development skills and he has a natural connection to Lewes anyway.
“I felt honoured to be appreciated for the experience I can bring to the club and be recognised for the added value I bring; it was a great feeling, I’ve slowly became more and more emotionally invested into joining Lewes and seeing how I could support, I genuinely would have been really disappointed if I didn’t get elected, but still would have found ways of staying involved with the club”
Andy first discovered Lewes FC a few years ago when we he came to a match at The Dripping Pan and began to learn that the club was different.
“I was in Spain and met Maggie at a football conference and I mentioned that I was considering joining the owner community as I’m a fan of sport for good and saw Lewes as a leader in challenging football to be a better version of itself. I don’t support a club anymore; I general just support anyone who is involved in sport for good. It’s a good approach because I can go and watch any football match and never be disappointed at who wins.
“Maggie is a great ambassador and spokeswomen for what Lewes is and stands for, and it really helped me to understand that it wasn’t a gimmick, there is such a lack of authenticity in parts of football and sometimes not all is as it seems.
“Speaking to Maggie helped me to realise that there was a lot more structure being put into place to be able to help Lewes continue elevating its brand to support the playing teams perform at the highest level possible and to also go beyond the pitch.
“Hearing and understanding more about how the ownership structure works and the ambitions for the way the owner community will work at the club made me want to become an owner shortly after.”
“I looked into it all a lot more, went over the club strategy and asked Maggie a few questions around what she felt Lewes needs, rather than starting by saying what I can bring to Lewes. I started to connect the needs and vision to the skills and experiences that I have built up over throughout my career and what I wanted to bring to football with a club that I can genuinely build a love and an affinity for. Following a couple of owners planting a seed and with my growing love for the club, they led me towards creating my application and applying.”
“My background has always centred around helping people in different ways and I’m a massive fan and supporter of trying to help people develop, on the pitch and behind the scenes, so I’m really looking forward to bringing my experience to the club and help its people grow, help the brand and as a by-product hopefully it contributes to both our men’s and women’s team and elevate their progress”
Lastly, Andy spoke to us about what he would like to bring to the role and his future ambitions for the club.
“Over the next two years, I want to make a real impact to the financial stability for the club, we need to protect the club to allow us to maintain what we are doing at the bar we have raised and help contribute to growth and innovation at the same time otherwise we will become stagnant as a club and as a brand.”
“Going forward, it will be key to create and maintain value in the brand and to grow the Lewes brand as one that is globally recognised, not just for what it can do on the pitch, but beyond.”