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Damien aims for top of the class after Plough Lane visit

Former Dons midfielder determined to stay the course

26 February 2024


Damien aims for top of the class after Plough Lane visit

Former Dons midfielder determined to stay the course

26 February 2024

Having graduated as a Premier League player with Wimbledon, aspiring director Damien Francis has set his sights on making a difference at boardroom level.

The former Jamaican international midfielder is a regular visitor to the Cherry Red Records Stadium as he remains a keen supporter of the Dons, but more recently he was at Plough Lane as part of his course, as he pursues a master’s degree in Sports Directorship.

“I think there’s a lack of diversity at board level across football,” said Damien. “I want to be one of those people who make a change in a leadership role within a football club.

“First and foremost, I need to get the qualification in order to have the skills that are required in these positions.”

Listen to the full interview with former Wimbledon midfielder Damien Francis below. 

Our home was host to Damien and his classmates, predominantly from the football industry, as they got behind the scenes access to understand the workings of our club at all levels.

“It’s been really interesting to see the guts of the organisation, which I wouldn’t ordinarily have access to,” said Wandsworth-born Damien, who started out as a ball boy for Wimbledon FC.

“I learned a lot and I was privileged to have had the access. It’s been very insightful to see what the different departments have had to say about the club.

“What was interesting is that everyone was well versed on the history, what it stands for, its morals and where the Club want to go. That was a common theme, but within each department they’ve all got their nuances, the pros and cons, and where they want to improve.”

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Damien, pictured with his study group of Owen Coyle, Craig Ross and Ben McNamara.

As Damien went on to explain: “It’s a two-year course with the University of East London. It’s based in Manchester though and we have to be there for two days a month. I came here with my study group to do an audit on AFC Wimbledon.

“The purpose of the module I’m on at the moment is to go into an organisation. It’s focused on high-performance and what this particular organisation defines as high-performance within its various departments.

“We’ve done a series of interviews with the heads of departments here. We then go away and write a report on our findings, which we’ll present to Wimbledon.”

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Damien had to retire from the game due to injury, having also played for Norwich City, Wigan Athletic and Watford. Having gone on to become an agent and having coached, he has a clear idea of what he wants to achieve next in football.

“I’ve still got a year and a half to go and much more to learn,” added Damien. “By the end of the course I should be in a better position to acquire a good role.

“There does need to be more representation at board level for sure, across all businesses within the country. Focusing on football though, I’m here to hopefully make a change by doing this course.

“There are aspects as a former player that you can tap into and make a transition to whatever suits you. You stop playing football at a relatively young age in life, so to find another passion is very important and a new purpose.

“My purpose has always been football and I’m transitioning into this area of the game now, which I’m enjoying.”

Main photo: Ian Stephen (Pro Sports Images).

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