Football in the US has reached a tipping point and there is no going back. With attendance levels now at 7.3 million per year, Major League Soccer is one of the fastest growing divisions in the world with Atlanta United setting the pace after announcing a record 71,812 turnout for their October 2018 fixture against Chicago Fire.
Since launching in 1996 with 10 teams, the MLS now features 23 clubs with three more on the way including David Beckham’s Inter Miami franchise – one of the hottest talking points in the sport.
We spoke with Mihir Pandya, MSc International Sport Management (Online) student at UCFB, who works at the heart of the US football industry in a Public Relations role with the MLS, about his experiences in the industry and the benefits of studying an online programme at UCFB.
Hi Mihir. Tell us about your online degree. How is it benefitting your career and broadening your understanding of the industry?
The degree has been a great experience thus far. I am currently enrolled in the MSc International Sport Management program, and since UCFB encourages online students to visit the Wembley and Etihad Campus, I’ve been able to meet and network with faculty and students while also attending some of the Employability & Enrichment events. After having concluded five modules, I genuinely feel that I have a different outlook on the overall sports industry.
Two of the modules I’ve undertaken have focused on sustainability and the globalization of sport. As a PR professional, I had no experience in these fields yet the informational lectures make me feel like I could switch professions.
Why did you choose to study an online programme at UCFB?
I chose to study the degree online because it gives me the chance to continue working at my current job in the United States. It also gives me the opportunity to be mentored by the UCFB program leaders and network with sports professionals around the world.
UCFB’s partnership with the Real Madrid graduate school was another reason I chose the program and I’m looking forward to heading to the Spanish capital in May to start this part of the programme.
Tell us about your current role at the MLS. It sounds like a fascinating job at a very dynamic, growing organisation.
I am currently a Public Relations professional working in the US for Major League Soccer (MLS) and U.S. Soccer Federations (USSF). As a Response Management consultant for MLS, I have been able to help alongside an off-site satellite team of media monitors that help provide insights and data measuring the success of the communications department.
The role also consists of helping lead the effort on keeping the executive staff informed regarding the latest MLS news (internal and external). As a Media Operations professional, I help lead all venue-related media operations for USSF at least 3-4 times (matches) a year.
How is the degree impacting your professional activities and career?
The ability to use UCFB’s network is great for any professional as so many of the staff members and alumni are interconnected to the sporting industry all around the world.
I currently have some football industry experience but I believe that UCFB and this online degree can take me to the next level. The best part is that I can continue to work in the industry while I earn my degree. I hope to one day soon work alongside some of the industry legends that I look up to.
What are the main benefits of studying an online programme?
The ability to work on the coursework online at any time of the day or week is a great benefit for working professionals like myself. It also gives me the opportunity to spend quality time with my family in the United States.