With the Indian FA and the AFC’s backing, the all new management program is set to hand one-of-a-kind opportunities for aspirants…
One of the most interesting piece of news that emanated in Indian football last month was the Football Masters Course that was announced by the All India Football Federation (AIFF). The aim of the program is what makes it interesting.
The multi-campus program aims to mould exemplary football managers who will cater to the needs of a burgeoning Indian football scene. It’s a development that shows that the AIFF is investing in capacity building in the country which is an integral part of the development of any sport.
The general consensus is that the Indian FA has been doing a good job when it comes to coaches’ education. The number of coaches who are progressing to higher levels in India right now is increasing, which takes care of the coaching aspect. However, capacity in terms of the management aspect is not at a level where it needs to be in order for the best practices to be implemented satisfactorily in the country. Which is where the new course could be a game changer.
While one could point out sports management courses offered in various universities in the country, with aspirants spread across multiple sports, the AIFF’s Football Masters Course aims to cater exclusively for football. Experts reckon that most sports management courses might not focus specifically on the so-called growth pillars like integrity, ethics, governance and regulations concerning anti-doping and racism with respect to football, with maybe two or three lectures dedicated to these subjects.
That is not the case with the Masters Football Course of the AIFF which will span a year.
What does the course entail?
Apart from being run by the organisation responsible for governing football in the country, which guarantees close exposure to the nitty-gritty of Indian football, there is also a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed with Spanish club Cadiz CF which will see the aspirants get a chance to experience and learn from how a European football club is managed first hand.
India is not a world leader in football, which makes it imperative that the best practices from arenas that are open and welcoming are adopted and that is exactly what Cadiz CF offers. They might currently be in the Spanish second division, but they have been existing since 1910 and have a great engagement with the local community. With the students set to spend a month in Spain, Cadiz could be a laboratory which helps them obtain intensive and extensive experience in European club management, marketing, player management, scouting, analysis and operations.
After orientation in Mumbai, the students will spend their first month at the headquarters of the AIFF – the Football House – in New Delhi. With multimedia classrooms already set up, the aspirants get an idea of how the AIFF governs football in the country.
Following the stint in New Delhi, the students return to the Mumbai campus at St. Xavier’s College where they will have classes for another two months or so during which they will also be taught basics of Spanish to prepare them for the Cadiz stint.
After a month in Cadiz, the students will return to Mumbai to complete the course. But they will be involved in AIFF events and will be sent on internships to various states and work with the associations on various projects to get a hands-on experience.
What can be expected in terms of the faculty?
The director of the course in India is Dr. Vasanthi Kadhiravan who is one of the senior most professors in Maharashtra in addition to being the Chairperson of the board of colleges which come under the University of Mumbai (UoM). She was the head of Dept. of Physical Education at UoM as well.
In Spain, the candidates will guided by Cadiz CF’s Corporate and Business Director Enrique Perez Martinez who has multiple degrees in general and sports law. He has worked with Spanish clubs like Deportivo Alaves and Alcorcon and handles contracts and paperwork related to transfers regularly.
While Dr. Vasanthi Kadhiravan brings experience from the Indian education system to the table, Perez brings the knowledge of club structures in Europe, how UEFA interacts with clubs in terms of governance, paperwork and more.
The students will also have access to former Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas who brings a different perspective which is player-focused. It should help the candidates understand what football players expect from somebody in football management.
The program also promises access to the club president at Cadiz, something which is not easy to do anywhere. The club presidents are not easily accessible but is the most important people involved in the running of a club. Access to them will help the candidates get a peek into their decision-making with respect to the day-to-day running and handling of club affairs.
With the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) support, faculty members from around the continent will also be brought in. This is apart from access to three professors from University of Sydney who specialise in research and data assimilation in football. The candidates will get a chance to work with them as part of a research which is one of the key components of the program.
What do the career prospects look like?
The Indian football market used to have seasonal earning opportunities. However, with the increased focus on the game, it is slowly changing. Clubs are interested in capacity building in terms of human resource and that is where management professionals with a knowledge of the game come in handy.
The industry in India is small but expanding year-by-year and hence, the opportunities could be phenomenal even. However, what experts reckon is that while the start might not be on lucrative terms, the climb up the ladder is quick and fruitful.
More importantly, since the program is certified by the Indian FA and a UEFA recognised club, it holds value in overseas markets as well. Also, since the students learn Spanish as part of the program, opportunities to work in Spanish-speaking countries is a real possibility.
At any rate, the program will help set up interviews and help in conversion of internships to placements for candidates in arenas of their interest, skill and ability.
What is the eligibility and are there admission tests?
Since it is a Masters course, the minimum eligibility is a graduate degree in any discipline.
In terms of the admission procedure, the AIFF will conduct a Common Admission Test (CAT) in five cities across the country to filter the best from the interested candidates. The first of this year’s test will be held on February 23rd.
The test will not be technical in nature and will test the aptitude of an applicant including skills in reading, comprehension. data interpretation and logical reasoning. However, all the questions will be related to football.