GISB is committed to create sports industry professionals: Shah

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The Global Institute of Sports Business (GISB) has come into existence as the parent company India On Track (IOT) felt that India requires trained professionals who have international level sports management education combined with an in-depth knowledge of the Indian sports ecosystem.

It was a professional realisation that the time is right to set up India’s first industry-driven sports management education institute in order to serve the industry that India On Track is helping to build.

GISB Program Director, Mr Neel Shah,  who is also a part of India on Track’s think tank, dwelled on the idea of a ‘Sports Institute with a Difference’ for several years before making GISB a reality last year. He also holds an MBA in Sports Management from Seton Hall University, New Jersey.

Shah, in an exclusive interview with, shared his vision and plans for the GISB. Here are the excerpts:

InsideSport: Global Institute of Sports Business (GISB) is in its first year. The parent company India On Track(IOT) has a background in the business of sports and has been managing sports at the grassroots level development while also offering services to some of the top international brands in the business. On the academic side, how did the GISB happen?

Neel Shah: We had the need ourselves to hire quality sports managers but always found a gap in the talent pool available in the country.

Candidates who came with international degrees had little understanding of the Indian sports’ ecosystem and the ones who were familiar with the Indian market lacked in elementary management education for sports. We felt the need and decided to create an Indian institute with an internationally certified sports management programme.

IOT has a long association with FC Pune City (the Indian Super League club). I started discussing the idea of a quality sports management institute with Gaurav Modwel, FC Pune City CEO. It took us over two years to develop the frame work and we finally launched GISB in July 2018.

IS: Why a sports management course? What is the specialisation?

NS: We have launched with a Post Graduate Certificate Programme that is certified by Spain-based Instituto Superior de Derecho y Economia (ISDE) – Renowned Sports Law and Business School.

Our programme is designed to offer something more than just the degree. We will create professionals ready to serve the industry following the 15-month course. They will graduate as professionals the industry is looking for. That is the essence of our programme.

Lots of young professionals today aspire to have a future within the sports industry, but they find it tough to get an entry. We will be grooming the aspiring sports managers and helping them create professional opportunities for them to join the industry.

IS: GISB PG Certificate as you said is not just a degree. It is a programme developed to create right professionals who are ready to serve the Indian sports industry. When you have a specifically-curated education curriculum, you also need a special faculty to implement that. Tell us about your faculty ?

NS: The faculty is a critical part for the success of any sports management programme. We decided to adapt a very strong faculty module with the three basic aspects. First, the faculty must be very good with people. Second, They must have the right approach and third, they should have an in depth knowledge and relevant experience with the different aspects of the sports industry. We have a very strong relationship with the top leaders and pioneers in the Indian sports industry. Our faculty comes from that Indian ecosystem where they are industry leaders. They are committed not just as guest lecturers but as the faculty delivering the different modules. The faculty is our biggest USP.

IS: Good institutes also grow on the strength of good students. It’s important to regulate your batches and have checks and balances before enrolling a batch. How do you look at this aspect?

NS: We received nearly 1,000 applications from individuals interested in joining our first batch and during the interviews we mainly focused on why they wanted to work in the sports industry. Ultimately, we finalized on the 20 best candidates and are now providing them with a holistic education to ensure they can achievement placement upon graduation.

IS: Which companies do you see as potential employers for the GISB students?

NS: We have working relationships with FC Pune City, Sportskeeda, SRI (Sports Recruitment International), the world’s leading executive placement firm in sports. There are two sports law firms – Krida Legal and Game Changer Law. We have Perform Group (it is a digital sports content and media group). These are some of the companies which are associated with India On Track.

IS: This is your first batch. What employment probability will you see for the students?

NS: We are confident in the quality students we have enrolled into GISB and the in-depth education and experience our students will receive during the 15 month program. Upon graduation, we feel that our students will be at a level where they would be attractive prospects to join India On Track, our partner organizations or many of the other organizations that are looking to secure highly motivated and highly trained professionals to join their respective teams.

IS: You said the idea of GISB originated as India lacked quality sports managers. How are you keeping it different than the others in the business?

NS: The biggest factor is that our courses are 100% industry specific. We ensure that our students don’t just gain theoretical knowledge of sports’business and management but also get regular experience of how the industry functions throughout their 15-month programme.

IS: The sports industry is on the path of growth. We see emergence of new companies – some of them are established as big names while some others are going through that development phase. How do you look at the industry?

NS: There are numerous sports companies in the business ranging from top professional leagues to sports technology and ground level operations. With my nine years of experience in the Indian sports industry, I will say that the level of professionalism has really been better over past couple of years. People have a more clear vision. The new business modules are more closer to sustainability. This is developing further as an ecosystem. However, we still have a long way to go as an industry.

The present scenario, however, is giving a lots of confidence to all of us, who are stakeholders in sports in India. The young professionals building a more logical and financially firm business is a pleasant sight.

IS: It took you around two years to create the road map and launch GISB. What are your long term goals? From here, where do you head in the next five years?

NS:  GISB will be the best sports management institute in Asia. I see our students serving as industry leaders in different spheres. Some of them will be pioneering new ventures. The GISB family will grow in the industry as leaders – not just the institute, but students as well.

The GISB-ISDE certificate is claimed to be India’s only internationally certified Sports Management course. The course has been expertly designed by global sports industry veterans to ensure that GISB students not only receive the tools, knowledge and experiences required to create fulfilling careers in sports’ industry but also gain access to relevant platforms in order to regularly interact with industry employers.