I feel like every long time football administrator has some special firsts: first FIFA World Cup experience, first time watching a big derby match, first trip to a developing country to run a CSR program, first time meeting a football legend and first time attending Soccerex. Up until a few weeks ago, I had completed all of my firsts except the least obvious one which is attending Soccerex. While at MLS it didn’t make sense to send a Director to the UK, Africa or South America when there were so many people who worked above me. In India it’s a totally different story. Not only do I have the opportunity to attend Soccerex, my organization leads a delegation of influential Indians to Manchester each year to represent the Indian football industry at this event which happens to be the largest football networking event in the world.
My organization, Libero Sports, and our partners the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) led a group of 35 individuals to the UK to learn about global best practices in football, share the Indian football story and network, network, network. All in all it was an incredible experience. Highlights included:
- Getting treated to a breakfast, business presentation and Etihad Stadium tour by our partner club Manchester City FC
- Hosting a successful panel discussion entitled, “Awakening Football’s Sleeping Giant,” which was attended by 100+ people
- Catching up with and meeting so many people who I directly or indirectly know in the global sports industry
- Releasing a knowledge report we created which provides an overview on the Indian football landscape
- Knowing that I am playing an integral role in the awareness and education of Indian football through this initiative
It ended up being 3 days of intensive work and a whole lot of late nights and early mornings. The bags under my eyes and non-existent voice by Day 3 communicated that I was definitely experiencing my first Soccerex the right way. All in all though I was extremely proud of my team, FICCI and our 35 delegates. We were by far the most represented country at Soccerex (outside of the UK) and I can confidently say that we created a positive perception about the current state and future potential of the Indian football industry.
I’m confident that that next year we will have an even larger delegation travelling with us to Soccerex and the business opportunities for those involved will only continue to grow…