Not often do you come across a 20-something who gives up the prospect of a high paying job, thanks to their love for sport. Meet 29-year-old Kabeer Shetty whose story is both intriguing and inspiring. Currently a coach at Arsenal India, one of the world’s most prestigious football clubs, Kabeer shares his story with us…
“I’ve played multiple sports my entire life throughout school and college. I started working when in college and did some HR and advertising internships. That’s when I realised that it wasn’t where I wanted to be. I tried to get into sport and did some sports marketing,” shares Kabeer, who got an opportunity to work for the Commonwealth Games. “I interacted with athletes from the world over and I saw some 17 year olds representing their country. That’s when I realised that educated coaching is lacking in our country,” says the alumnus of St Joseph’s Boys School.
He then made the difficult decision of putting down his papers and zeroed in on coaching. Kabeer then went on to coach at the Boca Juniors soccer school and soon a stroke of good luck hit him when he caught the attention of India OnTrack, a company that brought Arsenal to India. “I’ve been a die-hard Arsenal supporter since 96-97, so for me, this was it. The biggest advantage is that we have a structure at Arsenal. We not only have a coaching program at the grassroots level, we also send the kids to the next level, which usually doesn’t happen to children being coached in India. We’ve sent kids to countries like Portugal, Germany and Spain. I’m surprised by the number of kids that want to play football. The biggest joy is to see a child have a smile on his face,” he says.
For someone with a business management degree, getting into coaching was not an easy decision to make. “The salary is lesser compared to a corporate job. My parents were very supportive considering they come from sports backgrounds themselves, but they had their share of apprehensions too. Their constructive criticism helped me.”
Ask him what message he has for those who want to get into coaching and he says, “If you can dedicate 150 per cent to the job, then do it. It’s not about the cool factor, it’s a hard road to tread and the passion has to come from within you. You need to want to make a change and know that coaching is not about you, it’s about dedicating yourself to help others out.”