Interview: Nzumbe Nyanduga:
How did your degree in Football Management help you in pursuing your goals?
The FMD was extremely helpful in my career to date because it was the best bridge for me to make the transition into the sports world. The course is very well balanced as it allows you to carry out your daily duties and complete the learning modules on your down time. This for me was very important because whilst undertaking the FMD, I worked full time as an analyst for a Consulting firm and the flexibility of the program ensured that I could complete all the tasks at my own pace without losing any of the key learnings. The cases we studied were relevant and very intriguing, and I would recommend the FMD to anyone looking to gain an understanding of the working environment of a football club and the current management practices.
What is the difference between managing a conventional company and a football team?
Well, it depends on what level of management we are talking about but generally, the main differences between a conventional company and a football team is the deep emotional and social connection a team has with its community. Usually, sport managers would say that the uncertainty of sports results is a huge managerial differentiator but conventional business’ face uncertainty too in their markets and no investment is guaranteed. Yes, maybe in sports there is that element of performance risks associated to your results and how a manager will be judged but for me, it is managing all the different stakeholders around the team which makes sport different. Fans loyalty is different from customer loyalty, and sports teams are usually very rooted in their communities, more so than conventional businesses. Thus, managing these relationships and expectations along with those from your sponsors, players, and owners makes managing in sports very challenging.
What steps would you take for the professionalisation of football?
For football to be more professional, the entire football family has to unite towards this goal, and I believe this is slowly being achieved. Initiatives such as Club Licensing has enabled UEFA and National Associations to set the minimum standard for club’s. Minimum standards in terms of management, administration, media relations, infrastructure, youth development etc. Unions such as the Professional Football Association in England offers a wide range of educational services, post-career options, financial planning services and much more. Sports bodies around the world are starting to become more aware of the major issues related to them and are taking steps to remedy the situation. Football, being the biggest industry in sport worldwide and due to its attention, accelerates this process as more and more questions are being asked of administrators, organizers, and players.
In your opinion, what are the fears that a player faces at the end of his career?
I believe players find it difficult to integrate back to normal life of society after retiring from their career. A football player’s career usually lasts around 20 years thus they usually retire around 35-40, a relatively young age in society where they still have a huge chunk of their lives to live. The probelem is all they know is football because a professional football player’s life is very demanding which leaves very little time for them to explore other careers. Thus, players after they retire could be more susceptible to depression and boredom. The PFA, in England, have placed this issue high on their priority lists and they have multiple services available to their members while they are playing to prepare them for life after football.