My Herts life: Louie Evans
PUBLISHED: 13:04 30 June 2015 | UPDATED: 13:04 30 June 2015
Herts entrerpenuer Louie Evans has a vision for a UK five-a-side professional football league that mixes high-adrenalin games with live music and street sports. He talks to Carrie Bone ahead of his inaugural show at Wembley
How did Hertfordshire influence your love of football?
I grew up in Stevenage and went to school in Welwyn Garden City. My dad is football mad so I played for a Knebworth team until I was 11. Then I played for Peterborough United from the age of 11 to 21. I found it easy to find football teams and there’s loads of new Astroturf surfaces to play small-side football. In Hertfordshire the grass roots are really good, the children are engaged and more are playing than ever.
You’ve set up N5L, a pro five-a-side league, and are putting on major shows this summer – what’s the aim?
After I left football, I switched to working in recruitment and then started a business at 25, going from £0-£60m revenue and 100 staff. I sold that in February 2014. I was looking to putting my true passions together - sports and business. Around 1.5 million people play five-a-side each week, and it’s the second most popular team sport in the UK, but it doesn’t have a professional league. When I went to America travelling, I went to a lot of sports events and they have a lot more emphasis on the entertainment. We don’t do that here – we don’t have a sport that puts on a big show. Around 30 million tickets are sold for football games between August to May, but from May to August you don’t have a football product, so the idea is to put all that together to create a professional league based on American sports entertainment.
Is the show fun for all the family? Dads and sons are the perfect audience but we want to add something for mums and daughters and create an evening out, more than just football. Wretch 32 will be performing; there is a fan zone and a big carnival experimental zone which has different types of things in the show like skateboarding and BMX. The football matches are in three 20-minute slots so there’s two half-time entertainments; one is a big show of urban sport like BMX, skateboarding and free running, with back-up by Lucy K, an opera singer from Britain’s Got Talent.
When does N5L start?
The SSE Arena, Wembley, and the Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham, will host the first showcase games in July. There will be four teams from different parts of the country and different music artists, creating a mixture of music and entertainment. The first game is London Stones and the Liverpool Sergeants. Then the Manchester Novas and Birmingham Electric. From the taster there will be a TV show next year which will find the best players from the eight biggest cities in UK. Alongside those eight players, we have found the 16 best world street football players who have millions of hits on sites such as YouTube, like Sean Garnier (inset picture) and Issy Hitman. Two world players will be added to each city team to create a team of 10 to play in the league. The winner of this will receive £100,000.
What’s your vision for N5L?
The vision is to create the UK version of the American NFL, to create a fan-based professional five-a-side league.