17 May, 2012
I pursued my Master's in Sport Management from Loughborough University in the U.K. in 2010-11. I had always been a sport enthusiast, and my ambition to pursue a career in sport led me to Loughborough, where I hoped I would gain the knowledge and skills required to succeed in the industry. I was proven right, as on the academic front, my sports management course was, as the British would say, “spot on”, providing me with an in-depth knowledge about the sports industry, as well as valuable research skills. I got the chance to interact with the faculty, consisting of prominent academicians and practitioners from the sports industry, working and carrying out research in sports policy/governance/law/marketing, etc. My own research guide, Paul Downward, is an excellent example, having carried out several projects with leading sports government agencies in the U.K.
During my year at Loughborough, I did not want to be restricted to the classroom. Another reason for coming to Loughborough was my desire to play cricket, as I had been an avid player all my life and had heard a lot about the university's sporting prowess.
I myself became familiar with the cricket facilities on campus, as I won a berth in Loughborough's top cricket team. They include two full-size cricket grounds and the ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board) high-performance centre, where we got the opportunity to train. The indoor ECB centre consists of six practice nets, with state-of-the-art performance technology. It was no surprise that the facility was frequently visited by county players and England internationals.
More than the facilities, it was the training I received and the people I met within the cricketing set-up that had a profound impact on me. We trained like professionals do, with a focus on fitness, nutrition and mental and tactical awareness. Our squad had some of the best young talent in the U.K., with six players already contracted to counties as professionals. To top it all, I was coached by former Ashes hero, the late Graham Dilley, one of the best fast bowlers of his generation, and a shrewd coach.
These experiences of mine at Loughborough fuelled my interest in performance sport, especially at the grassroots. It provided me with a platform to pursue my career in the field of high-performance coaching. Besides all the cricket, Loughborough provided me the opportunity to meet and interact with the international student body present on campus. Loughborough has a large and active student union, which hosts several activities including sports clubs, societies and a vibrant nightlife, making it the ideal setting for students to interact with each other.
Now, foreigners coming to India for the first time often talk about their ‘culture shock'. But I felt that I too had to adjust and get used to several aspects of life in the U.K. such as the weather, the food, the accent, the culture, the humour, etc. I found that the best way to get comfortable was to get involved — to explore the cities, interact with the locals, taste the food and so on. I also received excellent guidance/help from the International office, where the people are extremely welcoming and helpful. Finally, to stay connected to India, I met fellow Indian students at Loughborough, shared my experiences with them and learnt about their journey.