You love sports but you’re not a sportsperson. Here’s how to work the arena beyond athletics. By Kalwyna Rathod
Sometimes, it’s really hard to make a career choice. Perhaps your parents want you to pursue a mainstream profession. Maybe you’re worried that you’re not good enough at the sport you love to earn your bread and butter with it. Either way, you can stay connected to sports even if you can’t or don’t want to be a full-time sportsperson.
Read on for nine exciting options to spark your imagination…
#1 Sports Commentator Or Writer
Assuming that you already have a genuine interest in and knowledge of one or more sports, all you need to work on are your presentation and communication skills, and, of course, your confidence level when speaking to the masses. Arm yourself with a degree in media production, journalism or communication, and build your CV from the ground up.
#2 Public Relations Or Branding Specialist
A well-known tennis player before she switched gears, Lucknow-based Taruka Srivastav is the founder of The Playknox, a branding and marketing sports business platform that works with global clients. A former Asian Games athlete, she is also a British Council GREAT Scholar. She has worked with Manchester United and UNICEF as a media consultant, for FIFA U17 WC as a venue press officer, and at the Hockey World Cup 2018 as a communications specialist. She currently works as a media consultant with several organisations. “Apart from covering news, we conduct interviews and, so far, we have interviewed some good names from the industry,” Taruka reveals. “Our focus is on exploring partnerships in depth and covering the dynamics of branding and marketing within the industry.”
Of her career switch, she says, “After representing India at the Asian Games, I wanted a more stable career for myself. Sports journalism seemed the best choice as I personally knew many sportspersons. There is a great level of comfort when I am speaking with a sportsperson or someone from the sports business industry because of the fact that I have played sport.” Taruka loves the fact that she gets to travel aroundthe country and the world and meet different people in this field. Her advice? “Pursue what you are passionate about and dedicate yourself to it. Cultivate a great work ethic and stick to it even during the bad times. Work hard and help as many people as you can. All the good will come back to you.”
#3 Marketing Manager
Start with a bachelor’s degree in marketing or a business-related discipline; pursue your master’s or jump right into the job pool. This profile is about assessing market demand for products and services. You’ll also get to work with the sales and development teams to meet these demands, create pricing and promotional materials for target audiences, etc.
#4 Event Planner
How cool would it be to organise sporting events from start to finish! If you think about it, there’s so much that goes on behind the scenes at any event, big or small. To be able to pull off something of this sort successfully can be quite exhilarating. If you have strong organisational, problem-solving, negotiation and interpersonal skills, and the ability to understand the needs of both your athlete clientele and the sports-going audience, this could be just the thing for you. Network, build relationships with sporting organisations and facilities, and make your mark.
#5 Sports Physiotherapy
With more than a decade of clinical experience in treating all kinds of chronic pain and sports injuries, Ahmedabad-based Dr Hiren Patel is a trusted name with national and international level athletes. He has been the official sports physiotherapist for the national swimming team since 2011, and served in the same capacity for the country’s shooting team at the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
Dr Patel specialises in sports injuries and works with athletes on injury prevention and rehabilitation, dealing with problems such as ligament tears, meniscus injuries and tennis elbow. “I’m passionate about sports and have been swimming and playing badminton, cricket and volleyball since childhood,” he reveals. “When I did my physiotherapy, I opted for a super specialisation in sports rehabilitation. It was an upcoming field then, so I was the first sports physiotherapist in Gujarat, and the only one from Gujarat selected for the Commonwealth Games in 2010. The following year, I was selected for the Indian swimming team. I’m also associated with different sports academies.”
Dr Patel enjoys his work not just because he’s into sports himself, but also because it’s a matter of great pride to be associated with national and international events and tournaments. “I get the opportunity to work with my favourite players, and that motivates me a lot,” he enthuses. “A career related to the sports field is good as there’s a lot of development going on,” he adds, encouraging those looking for careers in sports. “You have plenty of options like being an athletic trainer, sports conditioning trainer and sports massage therapist, in addition to being a sports physiotherapist.”
#6 Sports Nutritionist
While a general nutritionist teaches clients how to eat healthily and maintain their weight, a sports nutritionist designs plans for athletes that specifically increase stamina, optimise performance, and help repair or build muscles and tendons. Their job is to support the athlete’s training, performance, refuelling and recovery after injury through the right diet. The job also involves helping athletes make healthy choices when it comes to food, and giving impartial advice related to sports supplements.
#7 Sports Psychologist
A former national-level skater and international-level lawn tennis player, Ahmedabad-based Nupur Kaul is now a sports and exercise psychologist. She is the founder of The Mind Studio, which focuses on filling the need gap in the psychological aspect of the sports field. She helps athletes enhance their athletic performance as well as develop psychological skills to cope with mental obstacles or hurdles. “The aim is to promote sports psychology from a wellness view rather than only an illness view,” she adds.
Nupur is affiliated with multiple academies as a consulting sports psychologist. Speaking about her career trajectory,she says, “I wanted to pursue my career as a professional tennis player, but destiny had other plans. A string of injuries put the brakes on my career; I was physically able to compete against my opponents but, mentally, something was amiss. When I had to make a career switch, I knew I had to study sports psychology to get a better understanding of the mental side of sports.”
Today, Nupur loves that she’s able to combine her love of sports with psychology. “I certainly required the help of a mental trainer when I was playing, but there was a dearth of sports psychologists back then,” she recalls. “Having been a sportsperson myself, I can combine the physical and mental aspects of sports, and train my athletes to achieve their true potential. I feel a sense of contentment when my athletes overcome their mental hurdles and achieve their goals.”
For those looking to kickstart their careers in sports, Nupur advises, “Always have a back-up plan in mind; one injury can take away your career but it should not stop you from being yourself and achieving your true potential. Be flexible in your goals as there will be other paths that you can excel in. Finally, for young athletes, develop your hobbies and interests apart from your career to develop a holistic personality that you can showcase later in life.”
#8 General Manager
As a sports general manager, you’ll focus on organising and building a winning team, overseeing everything from recruiting and signing players to managing them, the coaching staff and the administrative employees, and more. If you have strong communication, leadership and decision-making skills, go for this. A bachelor’s degree in a sports-related major and experience will help.
#9 Sports Agent
Help your sports clients negotiate business dealings, career pathways, PR challenges, and more. Your problem-solving and interpersonal skills will help you advocate for them when securing endorsement deals and contracts. Getting a bachelor’s or master’s degree in administration or communications is a good starting point.