MBA in Sports Management with an International Internship in Australia

It has been estimated that at least 2.3 million people are expected to join the Indian sports industry workforce by 2025. India's sports sector needs to be nurtured since it would not just help its GDP and generate employment but also ensure the social and general well-being of Indian citizens.

Brad_Green_sedaEven though India has organised many national & international sporting events over the last one decade, sports in India is still at a nascent stage. There is immense scope for commercially viable large leagues as well many other sports-related businesses such as events, academics, sports tourism, coaching centres, niche sports science back-up services, recreational sports, sports marketing companies, manufacturing & retail of sporting goods, sports apparel...the list is endless. It is unfortunate that many of these areas have hardly been touched in the Indian sports market.

We had an interaction with Brad Green who is the Director of Sports Education Development Australia (SEDA). SEDA caters to students in Australia with a preference for a hands-on learning environment. Its programs are built on applied, skill-based curriculum models and are delivered in industry, in the community and in the real world.

Brad was in India as part of a panel that discussed the key elements needed to build a professional sports industry in India, as part of the "Victoria Week Trade Mission" hosted by FICCI and the State Government of Victoria, Australia.

Brad took us through the vision that SEDA has in Australia and the plans it has for India:

Q. What is SEDA's mission in Australia and India?

Brad: SEDA is 7 years old in Australia and it comes out of an approach that chose to combine education, training, industry and community. I don't like rote-learning or knowledge-based learning very much, so I wanted to set up a program that I thought would engage kids and would prepare them for a whole range of careers. We have set up 90 odd schools which are in partnership with major state sporting organisations which conduct events, run programs - we have classrooms within those facilities. These are full-time schools.

We are the largest senior sports schools in Australia and the whole focus is on real-world skills rather than just information-based learning. We run a large sports program, an art & culture program as well as a building program. My focus is to educate kids who are not in the top 30 academically and who get left behind in the system. Only 30 percent kids in Australia get a job through their degree, for the rest, employment comes through the vocational stream.

I came to India around 5 years ago. I am here to see if a similar model could exist in India. I feel that the need here is even greater. It seems that rote learning is forced upon the students and many get left behind due to the same. "Sport" is a very small part of what would be well-being, physical education and then we can add sport. "Structured competitive sports" does not suit many people, but we want everyone to being doing recreation /some sort of physical activity. Panel discussions in India that talk about sports usually end up discussing "gold medals" - so sports is just about preparing athletes for gold medals, not about the general population, their health & well-being.

So I spoke to a lot of people here and finally found someone who is running a university but focusing very much on vocational skills - the Centurion University in Orissa. We've tried to create some courses with them, we've run some certificate courses with them over the last 10 months. We will also be starting one year diploma courses, advanced diploma programs, bachelor courses in business, sports management, physical education & teaching and then an MBA. We'll first be starting off with an MBA (it will be Centurion University's MBA) which will be focusing on sports management. While there are others teaching sports management, there are not many jobs in the sector. So in this course there will be a lot of hands-on activities (managing events, sport marketing). What people forget is that sports, at the end of the day, is just another business. Cricket Australia, for instance, employs accountants marketing professionals etc.  We don't employ athletes to run the business - you need business men!

[Also read: All about an MBA in Sports Management]

centurion_seda_sports_management_mbaQ. When is this MBA in Sports Management scheduled to start?

Brad: By July 2015, my curriculum managers are currently at Centurion University, meeting with their team. The first year's syllabus/ curriculum has been charted out totally and the second year would mostly be on-the-job (internships, research projects etc.) with scope for an international internship in Australia.

Q. Has the MBA got the necessary accreditation/ recognition?

Brad: Yes, the university will be taking care of that. We're building in the sports component of the course. So if the topic is "business policy/ business processes", we will be utilizing some of the business processes of Cricket Australia, which is one of the most progressive governing sports body in Australia. The MBA would mainly be having a "sports flavour", but it's mostly general business skills. Again, the major sporting bodies are not looking for business professionals specialising in sports strictly.

Q. What will be the scope of employment after this course?

Brad: We have a partnership with Snap Fitness,  which is probably one of the biggest fitness chains in the world. It has more than 50 gyms across India and is set to grow further. We're aiming at improving the quality of their trainers through a 12 week course. It is a challenge to get employment in this domain as sports is not traditionally seen as a well paying field.

[Also read: Jobs after MBA in Sports Management]

In Australia, the subject, "physical education" is compulsory across schools and every school should have a fixed number of physical education teachers who are paid exactly the same as other subject teachers. So people back there aspire to become physical education teachers. In India, they're not paid accordingly, so no one "dreams" of becoming a physical education teacher!

Q. What are the basic criteria being considered for selecting students for such a course?

Brad: Well, you don't need to be unbelievably good at academics, you need to have a good personality, people skills, enthusiasm, relate well with clients. Graduation in any stream with 50% marks in the final exam is a must.

Q. Any other partnerships/ tie-ups that SEDA has undertaken to promote physical education and well-being in India?

Brad: The 12 week certificate program in fitness training that we're offering along with Snap Fitness, would be through "IL&FS Institute of Skills".

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