Sports in the modern world is increasingly becoming more international and as a result, it is important for the graduates of tomorrow to understand the opportunities and challenges this internationalisation will have on the world of sport.
Football globally is as much about business off the pitch as football on it. And we're not just talking about the big leagues in Europe, Mexico or the United States. This is now essential in T&T and the wider Caribbean.
FIFA, the International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES) and the University of the West Indies (UWI) last November announced a new strategic partnership and launched the Football Executive Programme – a new professional development course designed to further enhance football administration across the Caribbean region.
Clearly, the need for professional and well-educated administrators, to ensure the successful delivery and development of sports has never been more essential.
This past weekend students from T&T, Ghana, Belize and Grenada assembled at UWI in St Augustine to hold discussions and be educated on Event and Facility management in the final semester of the FIFA CIES Post Graduate Sports Management Diploma. They spent Saturday morning hearing from CIES scientific director Pierre Lanfranchi who walks with a wealth of knowledge.
In 2008, Professor Lanfranchi was appointed Chair of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on the Role of Sports in Society. He is one of the creators of the MA in Sports History and Culture at De Montfort University in Leicester and the FIFA International MA in Management, Law and Humanities of Sport.
Current T&T Football Association (TTFA) general secretary Camara David is well acquainted with Lanfranchi having completed the FIFA masters under his guidance. Over the past 11 years, the FIFA Masters course has become one of the leading and most respected international postgraduate sports management programme in the world.
Also happening at UWI on Saturday was a lecture by FIFA Project Manager for the Caribbean Malaika Church and Costa Rican director of national teams Diego Brenes, who is a CIES lecturer on administrative matters.
Across in India last December CIES and the Pillai Institute of Management Studies and Research (Pillai) signed a partnership agreement on December 3, 2018 for which the main objective of the agreement was to organise the FIFA/CIES Executive Programme in Sports Management for a country where sport has experienced significant growth over the last few years.
It was in Mumbai that CIES and the Pillai Institute of Management Studies and Research signed a partnership agreement to allow Indian football and sports managers to attend the FIFA/CIES Executive Programme. The curriculum is currently organised across 15 other countries in Asia, Africa, South America and Central America, as well as in the Caribbean, the Middle East and Europe. It allows managers from various sports organisations to gain knowledge of management principles in fields such as marketing, sponsorship, finance and accounting, communication, management, law and event management.
With more entries and more categories than ever, it reflects the growing importance and sophistication of sports industry academia.
Like the profile, importance and financial strength of sports increase both domestically and internationally, the need for highly educated sports administrators and managers has never been greater. The athletes are who the fans pay to see. They are the big products but administrators and officials do in fact hold hugely significant roles. Organisations must utilise the opportunities that are available to educate and train their employees or officials, especially those who are in critical positions.
While employers find the development opportunities expensive and sometimes see it as employees missing out on work time while attending training sessions, training and development provide both the sporting organisation as a whole and the individual employees with benefits that make the cost and time a worthwhile investment.
A training or education programme allows an organisation to strengthen those skills that each employee needs to improve. These types of programmes bring all employees to a higher level so they all have similar skills and knowledge. This helps reduce any weak links within the body who rely heavily on others to complete basic work tasks.
Providing the necessary training creates an overall knowledgeable staff with employees who can take over for one another as needed, work on teams or work independently. Ultimately an employee or sporting official who receives the necessary training is better able to perform his or her duties. It builds confidence because that person has a stronger understanding of the sporting industry and the responsibilities of the job.
The opportunities are there and doors are opened a bit wider than they were twenty years ago. Perhaps this could be the dawn of a new era in sport management and administration.
Shaun Fuentes is the head of TTFA Media. He is a former FIFA Media Officer at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. He is also currently a CONCACAF Competitions Media Officer and has travelled extensively, experiencing and learning from different cultures and lifestyles because of sport and media over the past 20 years. He is also a certified media trainer for athletes and a member of the FIFA/CIES Sport Management cohort.