A lifelong sports fan and participant, Arbaaz Akbar is currently studying a Master of Business (Sports Management) and building on his portfolio of international experience.
Recently, he had the opportunity to represent Deakin in the prestigious National Sports Forum (NSF) Case Cup in the USA where the university’s team of four blitzed its way to second place.
It was the first time an international university has been invited to participate in the annual event where globally-recognised USA sport programs compete in case study that’s designed to replicate the real-world, sport-industry environment.
Arbaaz says the team made a stand-out debut at the invitation-only event.
‘Everyone was impressed with our “out-of-the-box ideas” and acknowledged that international students are very capable of competing with USA students in the sporting industry.’
Originally from India, Arbaaz has always been passionate about sport.
He has an impressive soccer-playing career that’s seen him train with Italian Football Club A.C. Milan, represent his state at a national level, and play for India in the Gothia Cup in Sweden and the Dana Cup in Denmark.
‘As part of my university’s football team in India, we won many accolades and I was the recipient of a sports scholarship for three years. I’ve was also honoured to be sports organiser for the university’s international college festival where I had real-world experience in managing all the sports events including finances, publicity, marketing and organising,’ he adds.
Arbaaz chose Deakin for his postgraduate studies as the sports management program tapped into his lifelong fascination with the multi-faceted global sports industry.
‘Even from a young age I was very interested in the management aspect of sports because it holds the responsibility of a decision-making role which impacts thousands of stakeholders,’ he says.
As on-campus student at the Melbourne Burwood Campus, Arbaaz says he’s enjoyed ‘every single day’ of life as a Deakin student.
‘I’ve always wanted to be involved with sport in as many ways as possible and to be able to study about sport, talk about it every day and be a part of the sporting industry is a dream come true.’
He says the program’s curriculum, with its strong links to professional organisations and clubs, is providing him with a wide array of career-shaping opportunities.
‘This is a unique course which is helping me understand what’s actually happening in the real-world sports sector.’
Arbaaz’s participation in the NSF Case Cup began when he was one of eight Deakin students selected on the basis of their academic results.
‘To make it fair, we were then all asked to participate in a “try-out” round as there were only four spots available in the team. It was a mock case study round where we had to provide a solution to a real-life sporting industry problem within an hour,’ he explains.
At the competition, the Deakin team (who only met for the first time in person in the USA) had 24 hours to tackle a real-life sports organisation problem and come up with a viable marketing plan that was presented to a panel of academics and industry professionals.
In an outstanding performance, they secured second place behind the University of Oregon which took out first place for the second consecutive year.
Arbaaz says that it’s experiences like this that are teaching him the practical application of working in the 21st century world of sports management.
‘The sporting industry is an interlinked one with more and more domestic markets venturing into the global market. The NSF is an invite-only event which provides the students participating in the competition with an unprecedented networking opportunity with the top-notch executives of American sports,’ he explains.
He adds that one of the highlights of the competition was meeting his team mates for the first time after they’d spent months collaborating via “the cloud”.
‘I’ve made friends for life. My team mates all have vast experience in a wide variety of leading sporting organisations. Being the youngest in the group, I was able to learn the art of working under pressure and solving organisational problems within a specified budget from these really experienced professionals in their respective fields. This event was a huge confidence booster for me to be able to convince myself that my creative skills were at par with the very best students in the world.’