Wednesday, March 2, 2016

From No-V(o)ice to Voice in 6+ years

I know that I tried to be a bit too creative with this title. What I was trying to say is that when I first arrived in India a little over 6 years ago I had no voice (or was a novice) when it came to Indian football.  I was just some Indian guy with a thick American accent who tried to integrate the fact that I worked as a Director for Major League Soccer into every conversation possible.  People would listen to me ramble about the growth of soccer in the United States but would stop paying attention the second I tried to share an opinion on Indian football, which made sense given the fact that I knew very little about the industry back in 2009. 

Now things have changed. I am by no means an expert, but I can confidently say that I know more about the business of Indian football than most people which is not surprising as I’ve fully immersed myself within this domain for the past 6+ years.  That being said, I must say that sometimes when I’m delivering a presentation on this industry, I even surprise myself with the amount I’ve actually learned and, more importantly, my ability to communicate what I’ve learned with clear confidence. 

That’s the thing with journeys; it’s that when you are on them sometimes it doesn’t seem like you are growing at all but then you look back and realize that you are full of knowledge and wisdom that didn’t exist before the journey started. At least this how how my Indian football journey has gone.

Anyway, the fact that I’ve actually grown a voice in this industry was validated last week in London. My client UK Trade & Investment, the business facilitation arm of the British High Commission flew me to London to deliver a presentation on business opportunities within Indian football for about 150 people representing UK based firms.

The presentation I delivered covered the history of Indian football, current landscape & commercial scenario and future business opportunities with a number of case studies and anecdotes included meant to educate, empower and guide these firms around how they can best approach the industry. I was quite pleased with how the presentation went as the response on that day and the following days were quite positive. Post the presentation, I had the opportunity to sit on an Indian football panel discussion with my friend Tim Vine from the Premier League, Ian Stokes of StadiaArena and Divya Divakaran from UKTI. 

The whole day was fascinating and quite successful for me both personally and professionally.  And I’m not ashamed to share that on that 23 February evening I left the elegant and historical Lancaster House and walked through the streets of London with a smile on my face and a bit more swagger in my step knowing that I’ve managed to go from a nobody to somewhat of an authority on the business of Indian football in a relatively short time. It feels nice to be proud of yourself from time to time...

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