Our partner SportinGlobal interviewed our current Sports Management student Ilya Artyushenko from Kazakhstan .
You can choose to read the interview below or here
A very interesting insight into the mind of a professional athlete who decided to study a Master in Sports Management to become a football Manager.
Ilya, before we start, can you share with us what is your relationship with the sports industry? And how is the sport industry in Kazakhstan?
Yes, for sure. Since the age of 5 I started to be really into football, because in my vicinity there was a football stadium and I spent a lot of time in my childhood playing there with my friends. At the age of 7 I entered the best football academy of my country and after 11 years of being an academy player I signed my professional contract with the same club, which is “Kairat” FC from Almaty, Kazakhstan. In “Kairat” as well as being the captain of a youth team, I was training with the first team and preparing for the debut in the Premier league of my country. Also, I went through all youth national football teams (U-17, U-19 and U-21). But at the age of 19 I got seriously injured and after 4 surgeries on my knee and years of recovery, unfortunately, I had to finish my professional career. After that I decided to switch my focus from playing sports to being a football manager and that is the reason why I am studying Sports Management in Barcelona.
On the whole, Kazakhstan is a very sporty country. Football is the most popular sport for sure, but not the most developed. We have many boxing Olympic champions and one of the greatest professionals of all time – Gennady “GGG” Golovkin. Heavy lifting and Light athletics are really huge and yield many gold Olympic medals to our country as well. Alberto Contador was a member of “Astana” cycling team, which is truly strong and proved it on the international arena. We have many magnificent tennis players in top 200 of the world and a really strong hockey national team. Talking about football, our two best clubs, “Astana” and “Kairat” frequently play in the matches of European tournaments like “Champions League”, “Europa League” and “Conference League”, but the best results are still ahead. So, as I have mentioned, we are a very sporty country with a big variety of sports.
What is the feeling to represent your country as a professional football player?
In my opinion, this is the most important and crucial moment in the life of any athlete in the world. Representing my country during international tournaments was something special, something that I was always dreaming about and what I will be forever proud of. Playing for your national team means representing not only national symbols of your country and your homeland, but also representing its population, its values, its culture and every single fan. Therefore, I always left all myself on the pitch, same as my teammates and our team staff.
What were the key lessons you learned as a football player? And how you can translate it into the business world?
To be honest, there are a lot of them. First of all, I would like to emphasize discipline and patience. Discipline always beats class and patience opens all the doors which you want to open eventually. The main lesson which sport teaches you is not to wait for “good weather” and for the right moment, but create the opportunities and struggle every single training and game to get a necessary result. It teaches you that you must be the one who builds your fate and that everything is in your hands. But nobody will do it instead of you. You should work hard, be consistent and be brave when time to act comes.
Transmission of an experience from being a football player into a business world is not so simple, but it provides you with a decent platform to operate in the new field. You know a lot about competition, you know what correct preparation really means, you understand how to overcome failures and you are ready to face obstacles, which will forever be on your way to what you want. From my perspective, everybody should do his personal job correctly, which leads to the best efficiency of the whole mechanism. So what I mean is that you should focus on a concrete sphere after a playing career and implement all your previous knowledge and skills into a novel, but somehow familiar sphere to become a qualitative specialist in something new. It is all about detailed focus and constant learning.
How do you see technology working for benefit of football players?
That is a really good question. After my football contract expired I did an internship in my football club for one year as a first team statistics department member and I was surprised how technologies have changed football and training process completely. Catapult system which we used, provided us with all vital data about physical condition of the players, what helped us to wisely organize training process and recovery cycles. Instat statistics system enabled us to see how different aspects of the game affect the result, as well as showed real efficiency of a particular player. Also we had a Footbonaut training machine which is a whole building. Balls are thrown by the machine to a player from 4 different directions and he needs to control them and pass to a blinking section afterwards. That is an exercise which really makes a difference during matches, I find it extremely useful for enhancing technique and vision of the players. Also I would like to mention a VAR system. Although many football fans do not like it, I consider it as an absolutely necessary tool for making fair and correct decisions by referees. A human can not see and control everything – that is an exact moment when we need technology. Imagine a wrong referee decision preventing your national team from qualifying to a World cup or your club loss in a decisive game in Champions League because of a referee mistake. It is definitely not the best experience to witness. Moreover, the way how players recover after trainings and matches nowadays is extremely important. With a very tense schedule of the games, players who can recover better, stay fresher and avoid injuries, which results in a big advantage during the season. Undoubtedly, technology helps to do that. During my studies at ESEI one of the guest speakers introduced us a system which reflects the temperature of your muscles and where it is higher than it is supposed to be – it is a risky zone of muscle or ligament injury, due to its overload. Therefore, you should take it into account and adjust your preparation for the game. So, every technology makes its own contribution to an ultimate goal of improving a player one way or another and talking about how it can benefit football players nowadays is an enormous topic with many unexpected ways of enhancing performance of athletes. I believe in the future this direction will only develop and flourish.
You just started to study at ESEI International Business School. What motivated you to choose ESEI and How has been your experience so far?
My studies at ESEI started in October and everything is going great! After I decided to be a football manager in the future, I started to look for a Master program in sports in the country and city which would be most suitable for achieving my goals. Between Spain and The Netherlands I chose Spain because of the language, which is incredibly popular in the world of football and because of a football culture, which is more appealing to me. Then I focused on choosing a Master program with a structure of the course that I consider most appropriate to study and of course, on the staff and professors of the University, for the reason that I wanted to have specialists exactly from sports to teach me Sports Management. Ultimately, I found ESEI International Business School which completely coincided with what I was looking for. Also I want to mention that I got a 10% discount on my program as a professional sportsman and I really appreciate such a pleasant bonus!
So far I can assess my experience at ESEI as a truly superb one. Business School has completely lived up to my expectations and I am more than just satisfied with studying Masters here. At ESEI we study according to a project-based learning model and I find it engaging. We have a lot of communication, interaction with professors and other students, during which we share our opinions and of course, learning new things and obtaining new skills. We do not study dull theory at ESEI, we study concrete cases from the world of sports which makes the program 100% sports-oriented and practical. In addition, we have a number of guest speakers which show us the world of sports from different perspectives, as well as guest visits to companies and foundations, where it is possible to receive first-hand practical knowledge. We are not even in the middle of the program, however, I already feel how much new information and skills I have acquired and that my professional background is not everything that I will need in the future to succeed. I think my final opinion will be formed by the end of the course, but now I am really glad that I have chosen ESEI International Business School.
As a former athlete, what are (3) the biggest challenges in having a career in the business world?
First things first, I believe that an athlete should completely re-focus from being a player or a sportsman in his/her head to becoming a specialist in a familiar or a new sphere. In my opinion, not doing that will prevent you from evaluating things from the right angle and with a clear vision. Secondly, the chosen field should be the one, where you will be able to fully realize yourself and be maximally useful, so you should thoroughly select your career path. Also you should always improve yourself and never stagnate in our fast running time, otherwise it will be impossible to survive in the business world, as well as in a sport one. I think business world is another world with its own features and processes. Therefore, you should take into account that business field is quite complicated and you must be prepared for new, unexpected calls. Sport mentality and vision in many cases are completely different from business ones, so you should think much more broadly and take into account a number of aspects of your entity. But on the whole, there are many similar things in sports and business, but the question is how you are going to utilize your sport experience and what is your exact target in the world of business.
What is your game plan for the future? In what area of the sports industry do you want to work?
Right now my focus is mainly on the football industry, to be honest. That is because I feel like the transition from playing football to being a football manager is supposed to run smoother than anything else in sports and, of course, because football has been being my passion since childhood. Regarding my plans for the future, I would really like to find a job in European football market, but for sure I understand that this process is not so simple, so making a one or two year working internship after completing my Master program at ESEI would be a great experience and opportunity to achieve what I want in the future. Maybe I can start an internship even during my studies to obtain as much knowledge and skills as I can and use my time even more fruitfully. But of course, it should not prevent me from being focused on my educational goals, because right now it is a number one priority.
A final message to our audience?
I think it is really hard to address a good message to people who you do not know personally, but for those who are in the beginning or in the middle of their career path, I would advise to always follow their dreams and not to be afraid of them. Your final destination should motivate you, but not terrify you. Every single step will gradually approach you to where you are going, just do it and keep going. And for those who have already achieved what they wanted, I would tell them not to become reluctant and out-of-focus, because the ones who I have mentioned earlier are already catching you up!