A semi-pro footballer and website entrepreneur was left shocked by doctors after being forced to leave the pitch following a dizzy spell.
Louis Bollard, from Denbigh, was living in London where he was developing the Play Away, Stay Away/PASA website – described as the “Airbnb for sports fans”.
He was playing in the first team for Chingford Athletic but started to feel unwell on the Saturday morning of a game back in January.
The 27-year-old explained: “I told the manager that I wasn’t feeling right.
“It was the first Saturday after New Year and I got the jokes about doing too much celebrating.
“I started the game but knew something wasn’t right.
“I lacked coordination, especially on my left side, I was suffering dizziness and came off after five minutes.”
After coming off he went to the local hospital – and underwent a CT scan. This is when he received some shocking news.
They told him they found a bleed on the brain from an aneurysm and he later underwent an operation. The doctor later said one in three people die when they have these bleeds and he had been lucky.
He was diagnosed with a brain arteriovenous malformation and this week underwent a second operation at Walton Hospital in Liverpool, after moving back to live with his family in North Wales.
It was a difficult period but the entrepreneurial sports fan was soon able to put his focus back on the website.
Then the coronavirus pandemic struck, with matches halted – and fans still not able to attend games as normal.
While challenging, this has also given Louis an opportunity – with a revamp of the site to a create separate rugby fan platform, with a football site to follow shortly.
The concept is an online community of sports supporters connecting travelling fans with a local host – saving people money and also creating bonds between them.
Members pay an annual fee to be on the site and then use it to save money on their sporting travels.
He was boosted recently when the company was listed at number 52 in Tech Round’s Top100 UK StartUps of 2020, beating some prestigious competition such as Andy Murray’s Castore brand and alongside some tech elite start ups including Cuvva, Gousto and Zoom.
Talking about the site, he said: “The best way to conceptualise it is like a community based Airbnb but exclusively for sports supporters.
“The concept has been incredibly well received, particularly in rugby and I launched my new rugby website: www.pasarugby.com.”
He was originally inspired by the Adopt-a-Lion scheme during the Lions tour of New Zealand and the time Borussia Dortmund fans offered visiting Monaco supporters a bed for the night after the Dortmund team bus was hit by explosions before a scheduled match between the two teams.
He had also personally used a platform for cyclists as he cycled back from Switzerland – where hosts put up riders for a night as they travel Europe.
The Liverpool FC fan said: “I wanted to replicate this in football and rugby – we had more than 200 signed up with the initial launch. Coronavrius has impacted but it has also given me time to revamp this and we are building up numbers again.
“The tech listing was a real surprise because we are still at an early stage. But they have clearly seen what the potential is with this.”
He says the brain haemorrhage he suffered has not changed his determination to make this a success.
He said: “I have always been enterpreneurial, I went to the Peter Jones business academy and worked with him for a year. This hasn’t changed that enterpreneurial spirit.”
He is now working from Denbigh, saying: “Due to the improvements in broadband I can now do this from North Wales, something you could not have done previously.”
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