The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) hosted their 4th FICCI Turf Global Sports Summit last week at the Federation House near India Gate. This was the 3rd time I had attended this event which is surprisingly the only high profile sports summit hosted in India for the public.
It was a 2 day event with about 400 people representing agencies, sports federations, government bodies, corporates, students, international groups, leagues and clubs in attendance. The format was panel discussions for the general group of attendees and invite only roundtables for select attendees.
I attended my first FICCI Turf in 2010 while I was with Dentsu and was as desperate and lost as one of the many students who typically attend this conference. Back then I barely knew anyone and didn’t really have much to discuss in terms of my recent activities to support the growth of sport in India. In conversation I usually resorted to rattling off my background which ended up being boring for both me and the person I’m speaking with. My 2012 Turf experience was a completely different one. Not only am I now a regular member of the FICCI Sports Committee, Libero Sports served as the Knowledge Partner of this event which meant that we organized football sessions, sat on some panels, secured speakers, managed a stall and released a knowledge report entitled, “Foreign Investment in Indian Football.”
|Releasing the Knowledge Report with the Deputy Chief Minister of Punjab|
It was both a fun and exhausting 2 days. I’ll recap this experience, as I do many of my experiences for this blog, with a list of some of the highlights and lowlights from the conference:
- The passion and commitment that FICCI Sports Director, Rajpal Singh, and Assistant Director, Khushboo Luthra, exhibited in the planning and execution of this summit. I worked with them closely leading up to the conference was impressed with all that they do behind the scenes to ensure they deliver a successful sports conference for the stakeholders of Indian sport.
- The FICCI Sports Committee chose to make football the focus sport of the conference and allocated a half day for discussion on how we can collectively help India become a stronger footballing nation. Representatives included the AIFF General Secretary, CEO of the I-League, AIFF Technical Director, FIFA Regional Development Office and others who have commercial and technical influence on the future of the game in the country.
- The way my organization, Libero Sports India, was able to leverage FICCI Turf to build a positive brand perception for our company and optimism around establishing a business in Indian football. I was really impressed and proud of my team in the way that they exuded professionalism, passion, intellect and youthful energy throughout the 2 days of the conference.
- The number and profile of delegates who attend FICCI Turf continues to rise which is a positive sign and reflection of the growing number of stakeholders within the Indian sports industry.
- The partner state of the conference was Punjab and the deputy Chief Minister’s presence did spark some excitement and forward thinking discussions on how we can work with the government to help sports grow in the state of Punjab.
- There were a number of students in attendance who came from places like Kolkata and Tamil Nadu where they are currently attending sports management programs. Was good to see so many bright young Indians interested in pursuing a career in sports management and that their programs are supporting their journey by sponsoring trips to FICCI Turf.
The Not so Good
- People’s questions to panelists were rarely questions and typically served as more emotional commentary about everything that they were doing and how mad they are at the panelists for not doing enough. Although some of verbal diarrhea was valid, it would never move the conversation or topic forward. This happened repeatedly throughout the conference typically ruining a solid panel discussion.
- There was an obvious lack of representatives from the government and corporate communities. In India, it’s known that government and corporate support are key components to the success of most sports programs and FICCI Turf would be much more valuable to attendees if the organizers can find a way to ensure these two groups are better represented at future summits.
- Two prominent figures didn’t turn up which was unfortunate. Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs, Ajay Maken, and Minister of Heavy Industries and AIFF President, Praful Patel, both said they would attend and had to cancel at the last minute forcing the organizers to have to set up substitute speakers to take their place. In India, a place where status means so much, it is unfortunate for the organizers and attendees that neither of these 2 individuals could make it.
Overall, I must say that I’m very impressed with the way FICCI has been able to build this property over the past 4 years. They are really the first to be able to not only launch a sports conference in India but, more importantly, sustain and grow it each year. It’s a testament to the type of people and resources FICCI brings to the table in addition to the growing demand in the industry for platforms where important topics can be discussed, knowledge can be shared and relationships can be formed.