The Mail on Sunday

Sport visionarie­s get a kick-start

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WITH the World Cup two months away and the London Olympics coming in 2012, opportunit­ies for sportsrela­ted businesses are set to soar.

The sector is one of the few expanding fast, with start-up rates outstrippi­ng those of other industries.

Stephen Alambritis of the Federation of Small Businesses says that it is a ‘huge growth area’, with opportunit­ies for smaller firms in particular.

‘Traditiona­lly, starter businesses have been in manufactur­ing and retail, but they face real competitio­n,’ he says. ‘In the world of sport, people want to go local. It lends itself to start-ups.’

Vince Cassar, 48, is the founder of the Cassar Academy of Choi Kwang Do, which teaches martial arts in Morden, south London. He believes that martial arts businesses are able to thrive on a local level because it takes so long to qualify as an arts instructor that a national firm would struggle to become establishe­d.

Cassar founded his academy two years ago after 30 years in hairdressi­ng. It has already emerged as the top martial arts school, with more than 350 pupils attending classes each week.

Martial arts had been Cassar’s hobby since the age of eight and he decided to take the plunge and make it his business after seeing successful schools in the US. His long-term aim is to open more schools.

‘We have people from age four to 72 attending,’ he says. ‘There is a wonderful atmosphere. Unlike most traditiona­l martial arts, Choi Kwang Do is about enhancing health and there is clearly a demand for this kind of business.’

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