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From Bond to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games: Crafting a successful career in sport management

Those who are eager to combine strategic thinking with their love for sports often find themselves in a program such as Bond’s Master of Sport Management. Studying sport management supports students’ endeavours to become leading professionals within the sports industry. Sonal Narang is a Master of Sport Management alumna whose passion for sports began as a child and quickly set her on a steady path toward her dream of working with elite athletes.

We recently caught up with Sonal to learn all about her journey from studying at Bond, to working with elite athletes in the lead-up to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and now, as she continues to develop her skills and understanding of sport management in her home country.

Written by Master of Sport Management alumna Sonal Narang.

Pursuing my sport management career aspirations

Sport is fast-paced, exciting, and loaded with diverse opportunities. Whether you're a competitor or simply a sports aficionado, a career in this field can be particularly satisfying, and a degree in sport management can help you get there. A sport management degree prepares you for a career that combines business and sports through project management, sports workshops, and player performance analysis.

Having played various sports in my younger years, a degree in sport management has allowed me to continue to follow my passion for the sports world while simultaneously pursuing a challenging career.

Three ways Bond prepared me for my career in sport management

1. Bond's curriculum and program structure

Bond’s curriculum provides students with various opportunities to combine theoretical knowledge with practical experience. I was lucky enough to work as a national programs intern with Australian University Sport (now Unisport Australia), which provided me with greater insight into event management and sports marketing.

2. The campus environment

Bond is a really welcoming place, and encourages students to explore their career interests through various clubs and events supported by the University. I personally really enjoyed the low student-to-teacher ratio, as it created a learning environment centred around discussion.

3. Career Development Centre

Bond’s academic programs are rigorous, but the small class sizes meant I always had support. The staff at the Career Development Centre were systematic in their approach to guiding me through compiling my resume and providing me with clear direction on how I could achieve my goal of obtaining a job in sport management.

The Career Development Centre (CDC) is an on-campus service designed to support students as they pursue their desired careers. Available assistance includes finessing resumes, sourcing internships and work experience, submitting job applications and/or preparing for interviews. The CDC is the University’s one-stop-shop for career guidance, and provides services to Bondies not just during their studies, but for life.

Chasing my passion for working with elite athletes

After I graduated with a Master of Sport Management in 2017, I returned to my home country, India, to put the knowledge and skills I gained from my studies into practice. Then, in early 2018, I travelled back to the Gold Coast to attend the Commonwealth Games. This came about from networking with various Indian sportspeople, managers, and department officials, following which I was offered an opportunity to join the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (a flagship program of the Indian government’s Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports) as an athlete relationship manager.

As an athlete relationship manager, my responsibilities included being the main point of contact for India’s elite athletes regarding their training schedules and competition requirements. I was also responsible for maintaining communication with various national sports federations, as well as other stakeholders, to ensure I had the most relevant information on training requirements, competitions and any financial assistance opportunities.

I recently took on my newest challenge as Deputy Competition Manager at Ultimate Kho Kho. In this role, I am responsible for liaising with the National Sports Federation on player policies, rules and regulations. It’s a crucial part of my position to be aware of player performance and health, assisting with training and recovery schedules in preparation for competitions. I also work closely with our internal broadcast team to coordinate relevant media coverage such as photoshoots and interviews.

Ultimate Kho Kho began its journey in 2018 with much enthusiasm and anticipation, and holds a very special place in my heart. I adore the fact that the athletes I work closely with are all humble people, who grew up playing kho kho in rural parts of India. The players are a true reflection of the sport, and together we aim to popularise India's indigenous game of kho kho.

My contribution to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games

In 2020, I designed and conducted an athlete development and education program. This program aimed to educate athletes on the importance of media management, financial management, seeking legal advice, anti-doping and learning soft skills during their careers. As part of this initiative, I coordinated with Tsukuba University in Japan to organise 'Omotenashi’, a Japanese cultural sensitivity and hospitality program, for Indian athletes and officials. The program was presented to athletes who had qualified to represent India at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and was designed to improve Indian sportspersons’ awareness and appreciation of Japanese culture prior to competing at the Olympic Games.

My advice for future Master of Sport Management students

If you’re considering a career in sport management, you must have a passion for sports (that’s a given!), patience, the ability to manage an array of personalities, and good communication skills, not to mention confidence and social and emotional intelligence!

Sonal’s sport management journey is only just beginning, but she has already ticked a major achievement off her career bucket list. From studying at Bond and refining the skills and understanding needed to become a leader in global sports cultures and communities, to now, taking home gold with the success of her new career venture, managing kho kho athletes’ competition performance and recovery. Bond’s Master of Sport Management empowers students to pursue their career ambitions, and provides the knowledge and competitive edge alumni need to thrive in multi-faceted sport management roles.

Considering a fast-paced, global career in sport?

Discover Bond’s Master of Sport Management.

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