An engineer who learned his trade at the University of Mumbai, 34-year-old Abhik Chatterjee, decided to end his four-year-long tryst with corporate MNCs when the Indian Super League (the top-most tier of Indian football) made its debut in 2014. Over the last seven years, Abhik has worked exhaustively across all the tiers of Indian football and has worked with clubs like NorthEast United FC, Fateh Hyderabad FC; and is currently the Head of Football Operations at Indian Super League Club, Odisha FC.
An advocate of a career in Sports Management, Abhik has encouraging words to say about one of the fastest developing career choices in India: “I am always catching hold of youngsters and encouraging them, sometimes even poking them to take up Sports Management as a profession. In my role at Odisha FC, I have to deal with operations, marketing, legal documentation, player transfers, media, and administration-related tasks daily. It is dynamic, fast-paced and exciting. No day brings the same set of tasks. Additionally, I get to live my dream of working at a football club. I feel privileged, and I do not take my position for granted. Sporting disciplines need strong and hard-working professionals more than ever, and I am excited about how this market shall shape up in the next decade or so.”
When asked about his take on how Sports Management in the country has shaped up as a career choice, Chatterjee spoke about the multiple options that are cropping up with every passing year: “There is no doubt that cricket is the number one sport in India. However, our country has seen football and many other sports blossoming in the last few years, like the ProKabaddi League, Badminton League, Volleyball League, Table Tennis League, Wrestling League etc. All these leagues need people in various departments that include marketing, operations, administration, performance analysis, finance and medical. There is a demand for skilled individuals who can fill these shoes and contribute to the successful running of these sports leagues.”
“I believe that our country is big enough to accommodate more than one leading sport, and all the brands that cater to the age group of 16 to 35-year-olds are seeing the value in investing in sports. With all the investments pouring into sports in this country, we are slowly starting to see the change in our performances in global and national sporting events. Our participation in such events shall automatically open the door for Sports Management professionals. These two trends are intricately interwoven,” Chatterjee explained.
Complimenting the Odisha Government for their investment in multiple disciplines of sports, he stressed the importance of state governments throwing their weight behind the cause: “I am extremely impressed with what the Government of Odisha has done for athletics and hockey in particular. Both disciplines did us proud in the recently concluded Tokyo Olympics. The Government is spending on infrastructure, which is a fundamental need for any sport to blossom. They have been terrific with us when it comes to Odisha FC. At the Kalinga Stadium Complex, we have a state of the art stadium, practise pitch, world-class gyms, an Olympic sized swimming pool, practise pitches and a high-performance centre within touching distance. For a football club, it is the perfect setup, and we feel extremely proud about having such excellent facilities at our fingertips.”
While signing off, Abhik summarised his advice to aspiring Sports Management aspirants: “Try and intern for a year if possible as opposed to taking on an expensive Sports Management degree and learn as much as you can. Make use of democratic networking mediums like LinkedIn to connect to people you follow or view as a possible mentor. Be humble and be ready to hustle; sports management is not for the faint-hearted. Above all, be secure in the knowledge that at the end of the tunnel, there is light as there will be moments which will make all your hard work worth it.”