Outside of a greater propensity to see crazy things without being completely shocked and a slightly better handle on Hindi, I’m pretty much the same guy I was 3.5 years ago when I moved to India. That being said, my experience of certain aspects of life has completely transformed for the better.
A perfect of example of this is what happened last month when I was in Europe. Over the course of 2 weeks I had meetings with some of the top football clubs in the world which included Arsenal FC, FC Bayern Munich, Liverpool FC, Manchester City FC and Manchester United FC . I’ve had meetings with each of these clubs at their offices in the past, however my experience this time around was completely unique.
Back in 2010 when I first started setting up meetings in Europe as a representative from India, I was merely a beggar. Even through solid contacts I had to fight and claw to get 45 minutes with someone from one of these football giants. And even during these meetings I would be sharing the Indian football story as fast as possible because timing was always tight, well at least it always was for the guy travelling around the world with a power point on Indian football and a whole lot of optimism.
Now 3.5 years later everything has changed. Each club that I met with was full of hospitality, some bringing multiple department heads and blocking off a couple hours in their afternoon for the meeting, taking us on private tours of their stadium and filling our stomachs up with delightful bacon sandwiches. Oh and not to mention the excellent discounts on club merchandise to ensure that my colleagues and friends back in India didn’t hate me too much for being privy to these money can’t buy experiences.
Although I’m well aware that much of this hospitality came as part of a very sweet and strategic approach to woo my client over, I like to believe that it was also about something bigger. 3.5 years ago the clubs were very arrogant about India. They acted almost as if we were just waiting for each of them to save our football industry and that the second they chose to take India seriously rich corporates would be throwing their money at them. Now I believe that they have realized that the Indian football market is not that easy to crack. There is a lot of talk, but the substance is as limited as the number of individuals who can create strategic plans which ensure western football clubs and Indian partners achieve their objectives through a successful partnership.
Because our organization Libero Sports has been able to achieve the above, I’m quite confident that these clubs have taken us more seriously hence the back and forth dialogue and first class hospitality. As I’ve said many times before in this blog, I feel truly blessed to be a part of the rapidly expanding Indian football industry and to get to be a part of experiences which many people only dream about.