Dave Edwards: Doing the business on and off the pitch
The closest many footballers come to the business world is running a pub when they retire – but Dave Edwards continues to buck that trend.
His focus remains firmly on his football career – but away from the pitch Dave Edwards is also proving himself to be an astute businessman.
The former Wolves midfielder, who was delighted to return home to sign for his boyhood club Shrewsbury Town in January, is seeing his businesses continue to kick on and flourish.
The 33-year-old opened Little Rascals in Shrewsbury, a popular indoor soft play centre for young children in the town, with lifelong friend Ben Wootton towards the end of 2015.
The creation of the Little Rascals Foundation, which provides help and support to Shropshire youngsters with disabilities, and their families, swiftly followed.
With a keen interest in business and finance, Dave then became a director of Q Financial Services, when he helped launch the company with Mitchell Gough, a long-time friend, just over two years ago.
The former Welsh international, who left Molineux in 2017 after nine years, 287 appearances and 44 goals from midfield, returned home to Shrewsbury in January on a two-and-a-half year deal.
He says he is happy to leave the day-to-day running of Little Rascals and Q to his business partners as he concentrates on returning to full fitness next season following ankle ligament surgery.
But he is thrilled that Little Rascals recently opened its second indoor play centre in Shrewsbury and that Q Financial Services has also expanded by launching a Shrewsbury town centre office alongside its Telford headquarters.
“Football’s always going to be my number one priority until I finish playing, but away from the training ground, I get to spend time with my family and also have these other interests," he says. "I feel I’ve got a really nice balance and, as a footballer, you’ve got to look to the future as it’s such a short career.
“I do enjoy the coaching side, broadcasting too, but to have something away from football is important to me.
“I’m so fortunate that I’ve got people like Ben and Mitch to help look after things day to day. I still get to concentrate on my football and they run the businesses and make them as successful as they are.”
The established Little Rascals soft play centre in Monkmoor has now been joined by a new Little Rascals Club House, which has just opened across Shrewsbury behind Ego at The Grapes in Bicton Heath.
Dave adds: “We’ve always been looking to expand what we do at Little Rascals and when the opportunity arose to have a look at what used to be the Fuzzy Eds soft play centre, we saw somewhere with a lot of potential.
"We knew it needed a lot of work to get it to the standard that we want to offer, but there’s lots we can do from the new site.
“It will be open to the public on various days and also available for private hire for parties and events, as well as holiday clubs and after school clubs. It’s a great way of enhancing what we offer at Monkmoor.
“We take so much pride in what the Little Rascals Foundation does, above anything else, and how much it can help people. That’s what we want to do more and more. That’s where our big goals are in the future.”
Dave is also encouraged by the growth of Q Financial Services, which specialises in arranging mortgages, life and criticial illness protection, corporate protection, accident and income protection, and building and contents insurance.
It also offers wealth management, dealing with pensions and investments.
“It’s just gone from strength to strength,” he says. “We’ve just opened a new office in The Square in Shrewsbury. It’s a great location and gives us a presence in the county town.
“The services we offer are for everyone, including a lot of work on the commercial side, so opening a Shrewsbury office was a natural progression.
“I’m really excited how far this business can go. We want to be a company which offers good, solid advice and want to build a relationship, not just for your lifetime, but for your children’s lifetimes and their children, and really be a company that is recommended by word of mouth. That’s what’s been happening.”
The Pontesbury-born box-to-box midfielder, whose family live locally, earned 43 Welsh caps during his 10-year international career.
He made 132 appearances for Shrewsbury in his first spell, scoring 13 goals. But injury and suspension only limited him to six appearances since his return to the club in January.