Shaji Prabhakaran, a sports management professional with over 18 years of experience and proven expertise in football has come a long way. Prabhakaran, FIFA Regional Development Officer for south and central Asia, always dreamt of a career in sports. Today, his dreams have been delightfully realized and he has also created a personal website where he shares his story, his views and also news of professional sports. He has worked in many international projects and multicultural environments. Currently Prabhakaran is dedicated towards spreading sports in areas where it is less popular and making people aware of sports and its advantages.
In an interview with The Optimist, he shared his journey and his deep insights about the efficacy of sports in today’s world-
Working in south and central Asian regions is what makes Prabhakaran immensely happy. “Working with FIFA was a great experience overall. Projects like infrastructure, taskful (clarify) projects were particularly endearing. I also organized many tournaments on behalf of India. This helped me develop and gain experience by working with different countries. Interacting with leaders of football was also very fulfilling in multiple ways,” shares Prabhakaran.
Sports, especially football, is his first love. “I am married to this, and such is my immense love for sports that even when I was struggling with my career in this field, I never thought of giving up,” Prabhakaran enthuses and adds, “Sports change ones outlook on life which is why I try to spread awareness on sports among today’s youth.
“I always wanted to share my opinion with the readers. The main agenda is to reach out to people, stakeholders and others through the platform. In personal websites one has the freedom to communicate on certain areas,” he informed.
The time he entered the sports industry, it was not a thriving space. At that time there was hardly any opportunity in sports management, and like today, private organizations, association, clubs or corporates were not hiring sports management professionals. Despite this he persisted and eventually made a mark. Struggle adds stairs one at a time towards the door of success,” proclaimed the sports enthuasiast.
“Everyone one should get the chance to prove themselves, to be themselves, it’s their birth right,” believes Prabhkaran. “We have to be completely gender neutral when it comes to sports. Racism is a ‘cancer’ in sports across the globe, on which everyone should work hard and educate people about the rights of an individual despite its race, caste and religion. It should be a part of the curriculum in school which will help young children not to adapt discriminating ways in their future life. Sports is a no discriminative field, it is a platform where you promote talents unbiased and also one where merit is respected,” he emphasized.
Prabhakaran has worked on many multinational projects throughout his life and currently he is working on a global education project in Switzerland. Not only football but he has devoted his time in cricket as well. It is to alarm people that how global cricket can be expanded in the countries where cricket is not that popular but is regularly played. Predominantly in football where any country like Qatar, Uzbekistan, Vietnam where the sport will be introduced is what he focuses on. Due to the pandemic the projects were stalled for quite a while.
“Involvement in sports should start t school and community level,” says Prabhakaran. “Every child should be a part of physical activity, irrespective of their talents. In school students study science, geography, math irrespective of their score in exam, the same way sports should be taught to everyone. At community level, we need to encourage children to play sports utilizing whatever space is available. We should start this way, and then identify the potential ones in the long run,” concluded Prabhakaran.