Hi, and welcome to #TalkbackTuesday. This week’s interview is with Mr. Amarnath Sindol. See his interview below.
Talkback Tuesday is a weekly interview with everyday people. It is always inspirational to look into the life of another person and realize it is just as complex and large and confusing as your own.
Note: This interview with Amarnath is a transcript of a phone call. Full podcast below:
1. Hi Amarnath. For the readers, who are you, what do you do, and what is your current side project?
My name is Amarnath Sindol. By qualifications, I am an engineer. I’ve been in the technology industry, working with Toshiba, for 2.5 years in Bangalore (from 2003 to 2005).
But while in my engineering days, I was pretty sure that I would get into sports management, having been an avid sports participant and competitor during my school days.
The ecosystem in India isn’t favorable towards sports as a full-time career, and that is what spurred me on to get into the system. We always talk about how the system isn’t right. But I always knew, in a pragmatic manner, that I would get into it.
After 2.5 years working in IT and paying off my education loan, I thought the time was right to make a switch. I got a chance at Procam International which worked on the Mumbai Marathon (at the time, the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon).
From 2006, I’ve been in the sports industry, fortunate to work on some big events such as Marathons and the Commonwealth Games, and now I’m in my 4th year with FC Pune City and Hero ISL.
I focus more on the business side of sports – the commercial and marketing aspects. My role with FC Pune City entails raising sponsorships, looking after ticketing and taking on initiatives that help build the club brand and increase the outreach of the club in terms of fan and city engagement. I lead these projects in the non-technical aspects.
In a Glance: Amarnath is a sports administrator working with FC Pune City in the Indian Super League. He was previously in IT for 2.5 years but decided it wasn’t for him. He’s had the opportunity to work on big events such as the Mumbai Marathon and the Commonwealth Games.
2. How has your transition from IT to Sports been? In your 4 years with FC Pune City, what aspects of your work have been particularly satisfying?
The key factor for me is that my individual sports dream is intact. I’ve come with the long-term objective of playing an active part in making our country a sporting superpower.
That cannot be achieved by one person. It takes many stakeholders to come together and work towards a collective vision. I’m happy that I’m getting and leveraging this opportunity.
Having been brought up in Pune, getting to work on this kind of project – I couldn’t have asked for anything better. Of course there are challenges, as with any workplace. But keeping that aside, I am content that my long-term objective is on track.
3. Even today, India is seen as a Cricket nation. With the ISL and Kabaddi league, more sports are coming into the limelight. How has reception been towards football? Did you expect the response you’ve gotten or were you surprised?
In the beginning, we’ve been pretty realistic. We all (the league officers and franchises) know that we’re in for the long haul. Given whatever we’ve done in 3 years of existence, we hope that we’re on track.
Some of the markets have been traditional football hubs – Kerala, Goa, Kolkata, the Northeast. These were expected to do well and they’ve done fairly well. The Kochi stadium last year was the 14th most attended stadium throughout the world on average, with 58000 average audience per match.
In terms of average attendance, we’re the 4th most attended league in the world. Going by that standard, our belief is strong, though of course we have a lot of work ahead of us. This is just the foundation. We expect more clubs to come on board and we want to align our schedule with the global FIFA calendar.
These steps are important to put together a strong Indian football team. We will hopefully achieve our target of getting India to qualify for the world cup in our lifetime. We are not sure about winning, but qualification by 2028 or 2032 is doable.
The U-17 team for India was pretty strong recently, and they’ve done fairly well in the youth FIFA world cup. We believe the future is bright. It’s a sunrise industry, a nascent industry.
We’ll need many professionals to come on board, to help with the league and clubs at the regional, national, and international levels and we’re on track.
We also need participation by the citizens, beyond just the government and the federations. Sports is more of a societal endeavour, worldwide. In comparison to us, the US and EU have a very strong school and collegiate system for sports, which we’re working towards.
In the years to come, the results of these efforts will shine through. 8-10 years down the line, there will be a paradigm shift in Indian sports.
4. Given that Football is on the upward trend in India, if you had to give 3 pieces of to people who have a passion for and wants to be part of the industry, what would they be?
First, identify the sector and the profile. The earlier you identify, the better it is, not just in sports, but in any career. By the age of 25, you should be sorted. Bring credibility to yourself so you can work with big entities.
Second, sports management is not a field where you particularly need a degree. It’s more of advertising and marketing, which are practical skills. You can work with people in the industry and learn hands-on without having an MBA.
Third, passion is an abused word. I would prefer a thorough professional and less passionate person who does his job. The first thing people tell me when they’re looking to get into the industry is that they’re passionate about sports. But that’s not enough. What do you bring to the table?
In a Glance: Be clear on what sector and role you want to be in. Prefer hands-on experience to theory. Bring more to your work than just your passion.
5. Great. Finally, what can you leave the audience with? What should they explore next?
Be both pragmatic and idealistic. A combination of those can be worked out. Taking my own example, I was very pragmatic when shifting from IT to Sports. I knew I would have to take a pay cut. I took a 50+% pay cut back in 2006.
It was a bold decision in hindsight, but I think it was the right thing to do, and I aligned my own expectations with that. The kind of lifestyle I should lead and work I should do, my personal financial endeavours – all were aligned accordingly.
Be pragmatic, and have clarity of thought. Begin with an end in mind. I see many people who are confused about their careers, and the longer they delay, the more difficult it becomes. I’ll end with a line from the movie Sarkar – “Nazdeeki fayda dekhne se pehle door ka nuksaan dekho.” (Anticipate the loss further away before you get enamored with quick profit.)
Thank you for reading Talkback Tuesday! Did you enjoy it?
Next, check out the previous interview from last Tuesday with Indhujah Somasundaram by clicking on the image below.