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Match Point: A new league of sports professionals is here

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A new breed of trained professionals is entering the arena of sports management. Ashlyn Pinto gives a peek in this trend

As a young boy in Goa, Lawjyo Gomes dreamed of playing football for India one day. He grew up to play for his school, his college and eventually for Goa as a goalkeeper during the Subroto Cup.

But one fateful day, in the last few minutes of a game, with the scores tied, an attacker sped towards the goal and Gomes dived for a save, just as he’d seen Spanish goalkeeper Casillas do on television. Only to be greeted by the hard plastic of the attacker’s cleats on his shin. As he heard the horrific sound, like a twig snapping, he knew he had to give up his dream of playing for his country. “When I recovered from my injury all I wanted to do was get back to football, but the doctors advised me not to play anymore,” he recalls.


Lawjyo Gomes

Lawjyo Gomes

There are others who are luckier than Gomes, who continue to play and dream of becoming the next Sachin or Ronaldo. Unfortunately not everyone can make it into the big league. But, like Gomes, they too can get to indulge their passion with a career in sports management.

THE BACKROOM BRIGADE

What sports spectators are exposed to are a few talented individuals who garner all the glory on the field. But hidden in the background are the administrative and managerial professionals who help get the game going. This is where sports management and the new opportunities come in.

“I have always been interested in sports, and with all the big leagues getting popular in India, a career in sports is swiftly becoming a reality,” says Samantha D’souza, a student of sports management at the International Institute of Sports Management (IISM) in Mumbai.

Samantha D'souza

Samantha D’souza

As D’souza points out, commercial leagues such as the Indian Premier League, Indian Super League, Pro Kabbadi league, and Hockey India League have zoomed in popularity after being endorsed or supported by celebrities. This in turn, has thrown up an array of job opportunities in sports management.

A skill gap study of the sports sector by the National Skill Development Centre (NSDC) says that by 2022, India will need 366,533 professionals with skills in physiotherapy and sports medicine for player development and 78,291 professionals with the skills to be commentators, referees or team managers for matches.

A degree in sports management can equip students with any of those skills and more – they are taught about different aspects of the industry such as sports administration, sports laws, sports PR, sports journalism, digital marketing, event management, sponsorship management and more. And they can go on to become sports agents, administrators, coaches or referees; get into club or league management; into sports journalism or public relations.

Smita Deshmukh, founder of Game plan, who heads a sports management course in partnership with KC College, says, “The sports industry in India is exploding and sports management companies are looking to hire young talent in many sectors, from league management to social media and content managers.” The KC College course follows the 60-40 approach – 60 per cent of the course is devoted to theory and 40 per cent to practical experience.

The result is a new breed of well-trained professionals entering the arena. “Sports management is the ideal career choice for any sports lover,” says Joel D’souza (22), who works with a prominent sports management company. “It’s a great experience to work at different stadiums, be involved with management and get to meet the players. While cricket was the only sport that was given the limelight earlier, the new leagues are doing a good job in promoting other sports too such as football, kabbadi, hockey and tennis.”

Joel D'Souza

Joel D’Souza

Ashni Bangera (22), who works for a sports management company in the city says, “Besides promoting sports on a large scale, sports management also helps get rid of some of the gender bias that we witness in sports. Men’s cricket is given more importance than women’s and that goes for most sports. Sports management does not have that kind of bias against women and will encourage many more women to get into sports.”

Ashni Bangera

Ashni Bangera

The last word belongs to Lawjyo Gomes, who says, “I love football and sports management has finally helped me turn my passion into my career. I may not be able to play for my country but it is a thrill to be involved in the evolution of the sport in India.”

SPORTS MANAGEMENT COURSES IN THE CITY

International Institute of Sports Management

Course: BBA, MBA, Post Graduate Programme

Eligibility: HSC Pass, Graduate in any field

Duration: 1 to 3 years

K. C. College

Course: Sports Management Programme

Eligibility: Graduate in any field, 3rd year student

Duration: 11 months

National Academy of Sports Management

Course: BBA, MBA, Diploma, Post Graduate Diploma

Eligibility: HSC Pass, Graduate in any field

Duration:1 to 3 years

Mumbai University

Course: B. Sc. in Sports Management, M. Sc. in Sports Nutrition, Certificate Course in Tennis Administration for Coaches

Eligibility: HSC Pass

Duration: 6 months to 4 years