Exploring Career Opportunities at Leading Sports Excellence Centres in India

India has become a prime hotspot for its ever-expanding sports opportunities. From achieving breakthroughs at international sporting events to grassroots-level penetration of leagues, the current sports landscape in India is sprouting with opportunities.

Taking Indian Premier League (IPL) for cricket as a prime example, let’s look at the stats offered to us by International Brand Equity. ‘From a brand value of $3.2 billion in 2014, it skyrocketed to $10.7 billion by 2023, a figure that underscores its status as a major player in the global sports arena.’
Highlighting the league’s significant impact on boosting the sports economy, work opportunities, global tourism in the country, and sports infrastructure development in India. Inspiring other leagues such as the successful Pro Kabaddi League which has gained international attention for promoting grassroots-level Indian talent.

Investments from both government and private sector initiatives have fostered an aggressive approach to sports development in the country. Building sports programs, competitions, leagues, and excellence centres across the nation. These excellence centres offer international facilities, state-of-the-art infrastructure, and expert coaching to the rising athletes in the country.

Government Initiative: Sports Authority of India’s National Centres for Excellence

Sports Authority of India (SAI) is a government initiative that has been established to scout, nurture, and train athletes to achieve global excellence. SAI has established 23 National Centres of Excellence across the nation that offer specialized training to athletes.
For example:

Dharamshala Centre of Excellence offers training focused on Volleyball and Kabaddi.
Alleppey Centre of Excellence focuses on Rowing, Kayaking & Canoeing.
SAI states that their National Centres of Excellence ‘operate as regular coaching camps for the best available talent in India and provide concurrent layers of prospective sports persons, giving a wider choice of talent and continuity for selection to National Teams and provide alternative second and third options too.’

They are built with key six pillars namely: Athlete, Coach, Sports Science Support, High-Quality Field of Play, World Class Infrastructure, and Diet as per Requirement. All pillars require several skilled sports professionals to develop its facilities, manage athletes, operations, and expansion. Considering the six pillars, career opportunities with the National Centre of Excellence for sports management graduates can include:

a. Under the Sports Science pillar, the following opportunities may be featured by the organization:
> Sports analysts – Sports analysts work with a broad scope of data, for example, team data, the strategy implemented and its success rate, etc.
> Performance Analysts – Performance Analysts focus on the technical play of the team or a player to track what worked and what led to delays in response time etc.
Both work extensively to collect, organize, manage, and interpret athlete/team data to enhance their performance stats.

b. Under world-class infrastructure pillars, the following opportunities may be featured:

> Sports Event Manager
> Sports Facility Manager / National Centre of Excellence Director
> Sports Marketing Specialists
With an excellent education in sports management along with a few years of experience, sports management professionals can also reach high-end management positions with government bodies.

For instance:

> Lead Sports Diplomacy talks at state or global podiums,
> Lead, manage, and contribute to Sports Policy, and
> Lead as senior management professionals at national organizations like the Hockey Federation of India, Khelo India Youth Games, etc.

Private Sector Initiatives

The private sector is playing a revolutionary role in the transformation of India’s sports landscape. Rising consumer demand for sports facilities and progressive government policies have offered a needed boost to the private sector. Today, Indian giants like Reliance, Tata, and Jindal Steel have made deep investments to build sports talent, infrastructure, and training facilities across the country. Here are a few leading private excellence centres for sports in India:

1. Padukone-Dravid Centre for Sports Excellence, Bengaluru
Known as one of India’s finest sports excellence centres, The Padukone-Dravid Centre offers multi-sport training. Catering to Badminton, Cricket, Swimming, Tennis, Squash, Football, Volleyball and Basketball. It is a high-performance sports facility that offers a state-of-the-art sportsplex, specialist coaches, and the finest resources to train high-performance athletes. Centre-specific opportunities for sports management graduates at Padukone-Dravid may include:

i. Admin and Operations Management:

> Facility Management, like Football Facility Manager, Badminton Facility Manager etc.
>Operations Management, like Tennis team coordinators (Team = coaches, S&C experts, physiotherapists, athletes etc)

ii. Marketing and Communication

>Sports Marketing Specialist
>Content Manager, for curated articles, listicles, web content, etc on various centre facilities, opportunities, global medal-winning athletes trained at the centre, etc.
>Social Media manager, etc.

iii. Sports Community and Events management

> Events Manager (Workshops/ recreational events etc)
> Community Manager (Admin and reception management work)
> Outreach managers (Reaching to the relevant community with details, plans, strategy, etc)

iv. Athlete/Team management

> Team/ Athlete manager (often managing more than one team/athlete)
> Sponsorship and Partnerships Manager
> Sports Photographers (for facilities, teams, coaches, athletes etc)

2. Abhinav Bindra Foundation, Chandigarh

A not-for-profit foundation, it works with high-performance training scholarships where technology plays a crucial role. This sports excellence centre is on a mission to offer intervention, education, and social upliftment through the power of sports. It dedicates its work to building sporting excellence through a focus on sports science. Many athletes from sports like swimming, badminton, boxing, para-athletics, and more have been part of their training programmes. The foundation dedicates its work to different initiatives to achieve its goals. This includes:

a. STEAM Scholarship Programme
b. Sport4Her
c. Sport for Life
d. Youth and Olympism
e. Athlete Mental Wellness
f. The OVEP India

Each initiative requires the skilled expertise of sports management professionals. Bringing them work opportunities at the centre that may include:

i. R&D in Sports

Managing, developing, and implementing:
> Youth development programmes for the foundation
> Grassroots-level scouting and talent development programmes
> Grassroots and Youth Engagement

ii. Sports Education

Investing to build:
> Education vertical management offered by the foundation (Like STEAM scholarship programmes)
> Health and mental wellness programmes management

iii. Sponsorship and Partnership manager

A non-profit foundation in sports requires a talented and skilful sponsorship manager to build its strategic partner roadmap.

Several other sports excellence centres such as the Gopichand Badminton Academy, Milkha Singh Sports Complex, Tata Football Academy, etc impart specialized training to athletes.

Exploring career opportunities across the growing scale of sports excellence centres in India and globally may seem daunting. To help simplify and apply for the apt opportunities, we recommend the following:

a. Earn a degree in global MBA Sports Management and harness the powerful industry connections of the MBA school.
b. Conduct thorough research on various sports excellence centres and their mission.
c. Build connections with sports management professionals at preferred sports centres on LinkedIn.
d. Customize your CV to target specific recruiting and department managers of the sports centres.
e. Apply to sports centres that ignite your passion. For instance, if social inclusion of grassroots talent excites you, the Abhinav Bindra Foundation may work best for you.

If you are seeking a course that fosters global learning in sports management, MBA ESG, India, offers a Global MBA in Sports Management. The programme has a global curriculum with French pedagogy, a 14-day educational visit to Paris and a range of experiential learning with its industry connections.

Click here for information on the application process

Author: Mankiran