Meet our members: Jim Feenan

Jim Feenan

The sport and physical activity sector is formed of individuals who are passionate about getting people moving. As CIMSPA membership continues to grow and our representation of the workforce diversifies, we highlight the individuals who are champions of our sector.

Individuals who are passionate, professional and competent drive the success and growth of our sector. Through sport or physical activity, they inspire and enable our nation to be active. In CIMSPA’s pursuit to showcase the excellence of the sport and physical activity sector’s workforce we present CIMSPA’s ‘Meet the Member’ blogs. Through a variety of interviews with CIMSPA members we want to highlight the different career avenues available in our sector and show just how diverse in experience our workforce really is.

In this installment we introduce Jim Feenan, co-founding director of The Fighting Chance Project (Scotland). We had a great time chatting to Jim about his background, his goals and ambitions, his career so far and how he thinks being a CIMSPA member affects his future in the sector.

Could you briefly outline your background and current role?

“Since leaving corporate life in 2013, I have pursued several areas of interest covering telecoms and management consultancy, sports coaching (judo) and UKCC tutoring and assessing. As a co-founding director of the charity, The Fighting Chance Project (Scotland), my primary interest is to help young people with social, emotional or behavioural issues or other additional support needs to get their lives back on track. In addition, I am the head coach of Carnegie Judo Club and a Trustee of Youth1st.

“I am delighted to be a Fellow of the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA) but continue to relish being a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management (FInstLM), Member of the British Computer Society and a Prince 2 Practitioner. I am a judo 6th Dan, and as the former Chair of JudoScotland and Director of the British Judo Association, I now hold the position of Honorary Vice President of JudoScotland.

“I completed an MSc in Advanced Sports Coaching Practice with Sheffield Hallam University in 2016 and qualified as a UKCC Level 4 and British Judo Association Level 5 coach. My MSc project was a case study of "Judo as an intervention on high school pupils with behavioural or additional support needs" – quite a radical change from telecoms but built on the many years of management, leadership and consultancy experience. The research project has provided valuable data and empirical evidence needed when discussing the benefits of judo with education, sport and government leaders when the opportunity arises.”

What are your future ambitions and goals?

“My ambition is to see judo as a core sport within primary and secondary school education in Scotland and the UK. Judo is a minority sport and treated as such! Of course, it is not for everyone, but we need to move away from the predisposition that there is no role for martial arts in education. Quite the contrary! Judo was developed initially as an education system to improve physical, mental and moral pedagogy. By emphasising the judo values, their relevance to schools' values and adjusting the coaching methodology to suit the needs of the participants, I believe we can make a significant contribution to closing the attainment gap and getting it right for every child (GIRFEC). I would add that success on the international stage starts with having a broad base of enthused and inspired participants who can follow a structured pathway through each phase of their long term athlete development (LTAD) journey. So, having judo in schools is an essential step in widening the base.”

What does it mean to be part of the sector’s only Chartered Institute?

“I have membership in other professional bodies and understand the importance of demonstrating the required experience, qualification, and skills needed to join an institute. Not for how that looks on a CV but the unspoken credibility membership offers. After my telecoms career, I had time to dedicate to improving my sport-related qualifications and co-founding a charity. Given my ambition and goals, being accepted into CIMSPA was a big thing for me, but achieving FCIMSPA (Chartered) has been a true pleasure and demonstrates my seriousness about professional development.”

How has being a CIMSPA member supported you to achieve or progress towards these goals?

“My preparation for my interview with Nick Sellwood and subsequent discussions on goals and objectives helped me re-evaluate my long term aim and purpose. The whole process was invaluable and much appreciated. The resources and links are also very useful for reference and new thinking.”

What one thing or piece of advice would you recommend to others currently in or entering a role like your own?

“Clear mindedness, determination and tenacity are essential attributes. Why? Because there will be many barriers in front of you. Not least are the politics with both a small p and capital P, but that makes it all the more vital that you believe in the value and difference you can make and keep driving to achieve your objectives.”

How are you preparing yourself for those new opportunities and changes?

“I am already on this journey, and being a member of CIMSPA is part of my preparation. Given today's starting position, my ambition and goal are a stretch, but I know we can make a valuable contribution to young people in education. As we come out of Covid-19 restrictions, schools will undoubtedly need the services of external specialist providers. So the challenge is more about getting access to the right decision-makers in Government, SportScotland, EducationScotland and local authorities.”

Since being a CIMSPA member what has been the biggest benefit to you?

“I think during the extended periods of lockdown, I have made good use of online learning for CPD to refresh my knowledge and update my thinking.”

Do you have any advice for those thinking of applying for membership?

“Don't hesitate! There is a membership level for everyone, and as part of a growing Institute, the networking and benefits can only get better!”


Jim is just one of thousands of CIMSPA members whose dedicated career represents the commitment, passion and devotion to sport and physical activity. CIMSPA, our members and partners are working together to bring recognition and respect for our profession and this continues to be possible because of our members, like Jim.

If you would like to get involved or submit your own blog please contact for further details and requirements.


The Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity

CIMSPA’s work enhances the career opportunities and professional development of the workforce operating in sport, fitness, exercise, leisure, gyms, coaching, outdoor exercise, health and wellbeing. We achieve this through sector-wide engagement, membership, networking, events, directories and professional standards.

Incorporated by Royal Charter Charity registration number 1144545

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