Right now, I’m currently sitting in an overcrowded Abu Dhabi airport feeling a bit uneasy after gorging on a Quarter Pounder w/Cheese meal only minutes after proclaiming to myself that I would eat “healthy” over the next few weeks. In a little under an hour, I’ll be boarding a plane to New York City where I’ll have the opportunity to spend the 4th of July with close friends in a place which, even after five years, never ceases to feel like home.
Yes, it’s my annual trip to the west again. A time when I get to squeeze in as many meetings, social events, dinners, breakfasts, lunches, brunches, hugs, kisses, hamburgers, hot dogs, enchiladas and tacos into a multi-week period. It’s also the time when I end up sharing the “Indian football story” and “my India observations” over and over and over again. Not that I really mind though as I genuinely enjoy having the profound opportunity to connect India and the US through my facts, figures, anecdotes and general optimism. Plus, I just love the attention and being seen as someone who has “taken the road less travelled.”
Since moving to India in 2009, this will be my fourth trip back to the US as a representative of the emerging Indian football industry. For me it’s an honor and huge opportunity to play this unique role of someone who has worked for years developing football in the west and now doing the same in the East.
My five week journey includes the following cities in the order I’ll be travelling to them: New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Cabo San Lucas, San Francisco, Las Vegas and Portland for the MLS All-Star game. During this time, I’ll be meeting with Major League Soccer, New York City FC, Liverpool FC, LA Galaxy, Chivas USA and number of investment firms, multi-national companies, sports marketing agencies and other friends in the industry primarily to explore opportunities for these groups to establish themselves within the Indian football industry.
Besides my maiden voyage back in 2010, this is my most exciting trip back to the country that served as my home for 29 years. The main reason is that, for the first time, I actually planed a holiday to Mexico with my family which means five days of completely disconnecting from everything with the people I love the most yet spend the least amount of time with. The second reason is that this past year Indian football and Libero Sports both saw exponential growth which means there is a much to discuss with those who I will be meeting, clear & tangible opportunities for global organizations to leverage this emerging industry through our company.
Boarding has just begun and thankfully my stomach is starting to settle. Although I had momentary lapses of memory over the past week of stressfully rushing to prepare for this journey, these trips remind me of how lucky I am to be involved in a profession which is directly aligned with my passion and to work for an organization which clearly supports my personal and professional aspirations.