Love sports? Here's how this award-winning sports management institute in Mumbai could help you find your passion

International Institute of Sports Management (IISM) is based in Mumbai and was founded by former cricketer Nilesh Kulkarni and his wife Rasika Kulkarni
Winning big | (Pic: IISM and Edexlive)
Winning big | (Pic: IISM and Edexlive)

One of the most noted achievements of former cricketer Nilesh Kulkarni has been the wicket he picked up with the very first ball he bowled while playing his very first test cricket in 1997 — this was when India was playing against Sri Lanka in Colombo. Since then, his achievements have continued to line up, even off the field. Like when he founded the International Institute of Sports Management (IISM), an institute that has been setting the standard for sports management education in India for over a decade. We are counting the stripes of the former slow left-arm bowler today because he has added another shield to his shelf by winning the Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puruskar, which was bestowed on him by Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Anurag Thakur in New Delhi on November 1.

Behind IISM winning this prestigious honour is the "concrete mission" of the institute to keep "consistent focus on areas of improvement", says Nilesh. But when we wondered out loud what the Mumbai-based institute got right, the former cricketer, who played 3 tests and 10 ODIs (One Day Internationals) for India, says, "The institute stands out because we ensured that our content is modified parallelly to that of the industry, be it expanding our horizons on the research and academic front or anything else. We focused on these critical components for the reactiveness of the sports education sphere."

There is no doubt about the fact that sports management is a growing field that is brimming with opportunities yet to be seized by the eager youth of today. This has happened over the years and the former sportsperson credits the Government of India, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Sports Authority of India and the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) for the same. "These esteemed bodies have exponentially put in efforts to encourage sports lovers to not only make a career on the field but off the field too," says the 48-year-old. He cites Khelo India as an example, an initiative that is helping at the grassroots level while, at the same time, providing opportunities to sports management professionals too. With 145 Khelo India centres across seven states, this certainly is true. "This shows that India is positively on the path to becoming a sporting superpower by giving opportunities to not only athletes but professionals who manage the backend," he points out. In fact, it was IISM that served as the Knowledge Partner at the first-ever Khelo India University Games 2020 and Khelo India Youth Games 2020. Their students even curated Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the same.

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Speaking about how the love for sports could possibly transform into exploring one's potential, Kulkarni says, "Sports is one of the only few paths that is an amalgamation of passion and profession. Once you are a part of your loved field, Mondays are not working Mondays because you start enjoying the work. As aspirants willing to make a career in sports management, one can keep up with the industry, sporting events and happenings around the sector. This may help them in diverse ways."

The UG and PG programmes offered by IISM are in collaboration with the University of Mumbai and GICED (Garware Institute of Career Education and Development). Plus, they also launched one of India's first sports research journals, Sports Academia Research Journal. It has also won the Best Sports Management Institute in India award from ASSOCHAM India and many other such prestigious awards.

While assuring that IISM will continue to strive for excellence, Kulkarni leaves us with a quote by none other than Nelson Mandela — Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to the youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair.

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