Ella Williams: The Hatch Founder Empowering Women and Girls through Sport

Ella is the founder of Our Goal, a community organisation in Manchester with a vision to empower every girl to be active and reach her full potential. Our Goal is all about designing and delivering football and mentoring programmes to build confidence and self-esteem in girls.

Ella explains, “football’s played a really important role in my life, and this is an opportunity for me to share that with other girls and women.”

About Our Goal

Women’s sport has begun to enjoy more of a national spotlight in recent years, yet the unfortunate reality is that it is still under-invested in, and at the grassroots level can be really inaccessible for many women and girls.

Ella herself experienced a disengagement with sport around the age of sixteen when she stopped playing football, and this is a time that many girls drop out of physical activity further widening the gender gap in sports.

Our Goal is working to change that through tackling the barriers that exist for women and girls, from social pressures, to struggles with confidence and body image, and spaces not catering for the needs of teenage girls.

Safe spaces for girls to engage in football in a supportive environment can be a key tool in building back up a positive relationship with physical activity. As well as community football sessions Ella has begun to engage directly with schools on this issue.

“Not all girls have positive relationships with sport, physical activity, and movement. It’s about what works for them, giving girls autonomy to co-construct a programme that can help them to feel confidence and self-esteem and potentially reintegrate with mainstream PE and actually enjoy it.”

Ella’s Founder Journey

“I’ve always known what it is that motivates me and this business is a way of turning that into something that can benefit others as well.”

Ella knew that a safe space by-and-for women in football was something that her community needed, and was determined to combine her knowledge of coaching and personal experience in the sport to build something to meet that need. 

She already had the expertise in her subject matter, and knew what she wanted to create, but needed support on the practical side of turning that into a viable organisation. 

Research into grants and business support at her local library led her to Hatch Enterprise, and joining a Launchpad programme

Ella described the Launchpad as “a crash course on everything you need to know about starting a business”, and through the course built up her knowledge and skill base on all things business.

More than the practical side, she was also introduced to a like-minded cohort of female founders all going through the same journey, as well as experts who had been through the process before and could share their learnings.

“The course covered everything from branding, to marketing, to finances, to legal structures and loads more. My confidence grew massively, the tutors were so supportive, and I was part of the female-only cohort which was a really special network to be part of. During and thanks to the Launchpad, I took the plunge and incorporated my Community Interest Company, Our Goal”

After the programme Ella was successful in applying to the Hatch Grant, and was awarded funding to invest back into her business, growing the impact she is able to have across Manchester.

Advice to New Founders

Ella did not have any business experience prior to starting Our Goal, and the whole organisation as it exists today stems from one decision she made after the end of a work contract to trial an idea.

What could have just remained as an idea was sparked into life after seeing a quote that really resonated: “If you don’t do it, it will remain undone for the rest of eternity.”

Ella found that coming into the world of entrepreneurship as a young woman did not differ much from the world of football, also a very male dominated space.

Considering the target audience for her business, being a young woman was actually a huge benefit, allowing her to authentically engage with and relate to participants of her programmes.

Starting a new business can be challenging, but there is support out there and Ella encourages anyone with an idea to take the plunge and turn it into a reality. 

“I would also say, get to Hatch, get on a programme! It’s not just enough to have the idea, you probably, like me, have never studied anything to do with business, so that practical and theory support, and just that cohort and community, was really really helpful.”

Learn More

You can find out more about Ella's work to empower women and girls through football here.

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