IN CONVERSATION WITH ROMONE F. PENNY, NEW MEMBER OF THE FXC BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Romone F. Penny is the Founder and CEO of Pursuit Sports Group, a financial strategy-consulting firm for athletes and sports organizations, based in Washington, DC. Romone is originally from Chicago, Illinois, and lived primarily on the east coast for prep and collegiate basketball. Romone started his professional career in public accounting with a “Big Four” firm, Ernst & Young, as a tax accountant. He recently joined the board of the International FXC Federation.
As an entrepreneur, what attracted you to FXC at first?
First and foremost, seeing the leadership and energy from FXC President Max Bartoli is what attracted me to FXC first. Afterward, I watched the videos and liked the speed of the sport and how it supports gender equality.
When did you decide to invest time and energy in FXC? Was there a specific moment?
Honestly, when I first met Max, I was at the gym with another athlete, and Max shocked me when he approached me about FXC. Initially, I listened to him to be friendly and did not have a genuine interest in this unfamiliar sport. When he asked for my business card and emailed me the same evening, then I knew Max was serious about FXC. We set up a time to grab lunch, and we had a two - three-hour conversation. Afterward, I had a good feeling about who Max was as a person, and I was excited to be apart of FXC and its growth. Following that meeting, we had several other meetings and conference calls to determine my level of involvement. When I received the news the FXC board approved me to join the board and become a shareholder - I made FXC a priority, as I would any other investment.
What do you think FXC has that makes it unique?
I know that FXC is a fun, competitive sport that promotes and creates positive change by giving all genders a chance to compete, train, network, travel, and earn money. Additionally, the FXC league and leadership have many values that I stand for, personally.
You come from a basketball background and are still involved heavily involved in the sports industry. Someone said FXC has the potential of becoming a new “world sport” like soccer and rugby. Do you agree? If so, why?
I honestly believe FXC will not only be a "world sport" but one of the world's favorite sports. The sport is easy to learn, affordable, and a competitive co-ed sport. What else can one ask for [in a competition]?
You put together the first US FXC team and participated in an International tournament in Mexico. Can you please elaborate on the experience and describe the challenges of finding good athletes willing to compete in a new sport? How was the experience overall?
The FXC national tournament was one of the best trips and events I have ever been apart of in my lifetime - I had a blast. Most of our team did not have much time to practice, and some people never even played Fireball, so we had to get familiar with each other and FXC in a few days. As the team captain, I had a feeling I could rely on our athleticism and energetic personalities to get the job done and win the national championship. We won our first several games and felt confident about advancing in our bracket. Unfortunately, the Mexican national team outplayed us in the next round. They were strategic with every move, athletic, and they played almost a perfect match. With that said, I give my team so much credit for committing to join us in Veracruz, Mexico, competing at a high level, and doing their best to support the growth of FXC. Additionally, we had so much fun eating traditional Mexican foods, meeting other Fireball players, dancing in the streets, swimming in the ocean, our photography sessions, and many other fun team activities. We all look forward to making this trip again - and bringing the trophy home.
Do you think FXC will have a future in the US?
We are going to explore all opportunities to make FXC a popular sport in the US. I am committed to growing the league, and I know the board and even our US team members are as well. Also, once FXC receives a television deal with a major broadcasting company, the league will take off in the US.
Now that you are part of the International FXC Federation as a shareholder and a Board Member, what kind of strategy do you believe is needed to spread the sport in the USA?
I believe the number one factor is to have people play Fireball - that is the best way to learn about the sport. We also need television or media deals, so those who cannot play can watch FXC. We need to create leagues, tournaments and aim to implement FXC - Fireball Extreme Challenge™ in schools and recreational centers. Also, similar to how our US National team traveled to Mexico to compete, I believe we should create more opportunities for others to visit different states and countries to play and learn about other cultures via FXC.
Why should an investor bet on FXC?
Why not - the league is in its early stages, and like I mentioned earlier, it is fun, competitive, and promotes gender equality, stamina, and teamwork. The board is determined and has an outstanding vision and plan for overall development for the league. More importantly, FXC is already positively impacting many lives in other countries and expanding in Italy, Mexico, Spain, the Dominican Republic, with more tournaments lined up. Similar to other sports, there are lucrative opportunities involving competitions, membership fees, partnerships, leagues, apparel, and television deals, to name a few.
Is FXC entertaining enough to become of interest to the media?
Absolutely - FXC is undoubtedly a compelling sport. And once you learn the rules of the game, you will not want to miss a moment. The other fun factor is watching men and women compete together and against each other. And as we witnessed in Mexico, when an experienced team plays, one can see how beautiful the sport is and how strategy is imperative.
Does FXC have the potential of becoming an Olympic discipline?
One of the primary goals of the FXC board is to submit FXC - Fireball Extreme Challenge™ as an Olympic sport, and I feel we can make it happen. As FXC continues to develop around the world, including the US, we will gain more players and supporters that will back our Olympic initiatives and aspirations. Having media relationships will show there is a real audience for Fireball as well. Hopefully, the Olympic committee will take serious consideration to add this co-ed sport to the world competitions. Thank you.