Job search
Job Search

Nick Keller

Sports Management talks to Nick Keller, CEO of Beyond Sport, about harnessing the power of sport to help shape communities across the world

by Tom Walker, Leisure Media | Published in Sports Management 2013 issue 4
Read on turning pages | Download PDF of this issue
Nick Keller
Nick Keller

Seven years ago, Nick Keller, the founder of the UK’s prestigious and highly regarded annual BT Sport Industry Awards, wrote a business plan for ‘Sport United’  –  a UK-based awards concept that recognised volunteers and the positive impact of sport to inspire communities – but shelved it due to a lack of interest.

Today, after a subtle name change and International Olympic Committee recognition, Beyond Sport has a network which reaches 135 countries across the globe and is involved with hundreds of programmes which use sport as a tool to tackle social issues such as health, unemployment, conflict resolution, gang-related violence and education.

The power of sport
Beyond Sport’s vision is to create social change through sport, business and philanthropy. It aims to do this by bringing together individuals and institutions such as NGBs, governments, corporations, professional sports leagues and clubs. It recognises – and works towards harnessing – the power of sport to create change using a wide range of initiatives. 

According to Keller, Beyond Sport is a result of his identifying an opportunity and also having a track record for delivering top-quality events. “I spotted a gap in the market and it seemed like a natural time to do something special,” he says. “Some of the early momentum was developed through our work with the Sport Industry Awards and the network of people we had built with that.

“People trust us, as they’ve seen that we’ve delivered with the BT Sport Industry Awards and we’ve always been true to our work. I’d like to think that if we say we’re going to do something, we go and do it. I think once you do that a few times people recognise that achievement and so it allows us to go to the likes of Barclays, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Time magazine and other great partners – the good and the great of sports sponsorship.”

Keller and his team have definitely been busy. The organisation now runs the Beyond Sport Awards and a series of events – including the annual Summit and Beyond Sport United – which bring together the world’s leading social innovators as well as influential, global leaders in sport, business and government. He has also created an online networking platform, Beyond Sport World, which allows sports bodies and organisations across the world to interact and collaborate. There is also the Beyond Sport Foundation, which has so far invested nearly US$5m in inspirational people and projects in more than 40 countries. To top it all off, Keller has managed to recruit an impressive team of Beyond Sport Ambassadors – former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, archbishop Desmond Tutu, Olympic Champion Michael Johnson and US senator Bill Bradley are all onboard.

“The interesting thing about the likes of Desmond Tutu, Tony Blair and senator Bradley is that they’re non sports people who have been dealing with issues of society for generations,” Keller says. 

“They’re willing to put their name to something, which in the past might have been thought of as frivolous, but they take it incredibly seriously. Tony (Blair) is currently our chair and archbishop Tutu, who has no political gain around this, is passionate about the power of sport and how it can be a phenomenal catalyst for peace and inclusion.”

In search of legacy
In the year since London 2012, the question of legacy has commanded a considerable number of column inches and has dominated sport-related discussions in the corridors of power at Westminster and beyond. When the question of legacy is put to Keller, he says it can be defined in three ways. 

“Firstly, there is the business legacy. The commercial plans for the Olympic Park post-Games and also the business which was concluded during the Games. There’s a stat which suggests that around £14bn worth of deals were made during the Olympics last year – a truly phenomenal amount,” he says.

“The second aspect is the sporting legacy and the effect that the creation of role models will have on participation figures. Thirdly, there are the efforts that will be made to use sport as a vehicle for social development – how sport is used in its many guises to drive people back into education, improve the health of the nation and help alleviate problems around antisocial behaviour and inclusion.” 

But is the legacy being delivered? “To decide whether the Olympics have been a real success you can only really look at it 10 years on,” Keller says. “Also, for me, you have to take all three core points of the legacy together – I don’t think you can separate them off. I don’t think you can have success in one without delivering the other two. Also, if I’m honest, I don’t actually very much like the word “legacy” because it suggests an end rather than a beginning. If you look at the definition of legacy it is all about endings and I think we should stop referring to what’s happened, I think we should refer to what happened at London 2012 as a beginning for sport – an inception – I think we should stop using the word legacy entirely!”

Into the future
Keller says the Beyond Sport network now reaches across 1,000 organisations and its reputation is growing rapidly. The Beyond Sport Summit has grown from a one-off event to being a week-long celebration of the global sports industry’s achievements in initiating social change. There are workshops, special sessions focused on action-taking and policy strategy and high-profile panel talks. The awards are still growing in size and now attract nearly 500 applications each year. 

Looking ahead, for Keller, the mission of Beyond Sport remains clear. He is looking to attract partners who are passionate about sport as a vehicle for change – and then help them take action. “Our fundamental job is to find and help leaders  who can really make a change,” he says. “I’m not just after people with ideas, I’m after people who can implement. I want people who have an idea and can deliver it rather than people who can’t work on their own. 

“We’re trying to attract leaders who can uplift their community and that is our main job.”

What is Beyond Sport?

The Beyond Sport Foundation supports, promotes and develops sport’s role for social change across the world. This is done by offering a business package of cash support, fundraising support and monitoring and evaluation, enabling sport development projects to grow and develop. The projects are selected through a process with a high level of due diligence and the foundation has awarded more than $500,000 in cash and a much greater amount of in-kind business support to more than70 sport for development projects worldwide in recent years. For more information or fundraising opportunities, visit www.beyondsport.org, find the Foundation on Facebook or follow @BeyondSport on Twitter.

Sign up for FREE ezines & magazines
Sports jobs
Everyone Active
featured job

Swimming Teachers

Everyone Active
Salary: Competitive hourly rate
Job location: Nationwide

Membership Advisor Apprenticeship

Everyone Active
Salary: Competitive Salary & Benefits
Location: Petersfield, UK

Activity Leader Apprenticeship

Everyone Active
Salary: Competitive Salary & Benefits
Location: Slough, UK

Activity Leader Apprenticeship

Everyone Active
Salary: Competitive Salary & Benefits
Location: Wythenshawe, Manchester, UK

Membership Advisor Apprenticeship

Everyone Active
Salary: Competitive Salary & Benefits
Location: Carshalton, UK

Recreation Assistant (Lifeguard)

GLL
Salary: Up to £10.55 per hour
Location: Ruislip, UK

Recreation Assistant (Lifeguard)

GLL
Salary: Up to £10.55 per hour
Location: Shadwell, London, UK

Recreation Assistant (Lifeguard)

GLL
Salary: Up to £22,008 pa
Location: Shoreditch, London, UK

Activity Leader Apprenticeship

Everyone Active
Salary: Competitive Salary & Benefits
Location: Rickmansworth, UK

Activity Leader Apprenticeship

Everyone Active
Salary: Competitive Salary & Benefits
Location: Elephant and Castle, London, UK
recruiting with sports management

Activity Leader Apprenticeship

Everyone Active
Salary: Competitive Salary & Benefits
Location: Dulwich, London, UK

Senior Recreation Assistant (Lifeguard)

GLL
Salary: Up to £19,775 per annum (39 hours a week pro rata)
Location: Hatfield, Hetfordshire

Recreation Assistant (Lifeguard)

GLL
Salary: Up to £8.21 per hour
Location: Keswick, Cumbria

Senior Recreation Assistant (Lifeguard) Fixed Term

GLL
Salary: Up to £23,894 per annum (40 hours a week pro rata)
Location: Waddon, South London

Recreation Assistant (Lifeguard)

GLL
Salary: Up to £8.21 per hour
Location: Wellington, Somerset

Recreation Assistant (Lifeguard)

GLL
Salary: Up to £22,008 per annum
Location: Greenwich, London, UK

Senior Recreation Assistant (Lifeguard)

GLL
Salary: Up to £23,894 per annum (40 hours a week pro rata)
Location: Kentish Town, North West London
recruiting with sports management

Recreation Assistant (Lifeguard)

GLL
Salary: Up to £8.21 per hour
Location: Ulverston, UK

Senior Recreation Assistant (Lifeguard)

GLL
Salary: Up to £23,894 per annum
Location: Wimbledon, London, UK

Recreation Assistant (Lifeguard)

GLL
Salary: Up to £22,008 per annum
Location: Hayes, UK

Recreation Assistant (Lifeguard)

GLL
Salary: Up to £9.00 an hour
Location: Cambridge, UK

Recreation Assistant (Lifeguard)

GLL
Salary: Up to £22,008 per annum
Location: Horley, UK

Recreation Assistant (Lifeguard)

GLL
Salary: Up to £16,696 pa
Location: Swindon, UK

Recreation Assistant (Lifeguard)

GLL
Salary: Up to £10.55 per hour
Location: Hayes, UK
training with sports management

Senior Recreation Assistant (Lifeguard)

GLL
Salary: Up to £23,894 pa
Location: Hayes, UK

Recreation Assistant (Lifeguard)

GLL
Salary: Up to £10.55 per hour
Location: Epsom, UK

Recreation Assistant (Lifeguard)

GLL
Salary: Up to £8.21 per hour
Location: Swindon, UK

Recreation Assistant (Lifeguard)

GLL
Salary: Up to £9.00 per hour
Location: Abingdon, Oxfordshire, UK

Duty Manager

GLL
Salary: Up to £22,930 PA
Location: Didcot, UK

Duty Manager

GLL
Salary: Up to £22,930 PA
Location: Manchester, UK

Recreation Assistant (Lifeguard)

GLL
Salary: Up to £18,305 per annum
Location: Didcot, UK
lifeguard jobs  personal trainer jobs  swimming teacher jobs  recreation assistant jobs  Gymnastics Coach jobs  apprenticeships jobs  duty manager jobs  Swimming instructor jobs  general manager jobs  Regional Sales Manager jobs  assistant manager jobs  Swim Teacher jobs  assistant general manager jobs  fitness instructor jobs  Customer Services Advisor jobs 
More jobs

Video Gallery

TVS Sports Surfaces
Established in 2009 as a specialist supplier of noise and vibration solutions, The TVS Group has successfully evolved into four key strategic divisions; TVS Sports Surfaces, TVS Gym Flooring, TVS Play Surfaces and TVS Acoustics.
Visit website
More videos

Company profile

Company profile: EZ-Runner Systems Ltd
With over 600 clients worldwide in Spa, Golf, Health Club, Hotel and Kids Play Leisure, we have a proven track record endorsed by a diverse range of industry leaders.
View full profile >
More company profiles

Featured Supplier

Myzone vs. wrist trackers
According to ACSM’s Health and Fitness Journal, wearables trumped the top spot for trends in 2019. However, the question between Myzone or wrist trackers still stands.
View full details >
More featured suppliers

Diary dates

23-25 Jul 2019
Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Melbourne, Australia
05-06 Sep 2019
TagusPark, Oeiras, Portugal
21-22 Sep 2019
Locations worldwide,
23-26 Sep 2019
JW Marriott Turnberry Resort & Spa, Miami, United States
More diary dates