In many places around the world, sports are almost as much a part of the local culture as the language that is spoken or the food that is eaten. This is because sporting events have the power to bring large populations of people together, and even entire nations, as fans join together to enjoy the playful, entertaining competition of opposing teams. But, sports can be much more than entertainment. The following is a guide to working in the world of sports, to give you a better idea of what it is like make your passion for sports into an international career.
Why Work Abroad in Sports
Sports exist all over the world, and therefore, so do opportunities to work in the sports industry. Working abroad will expose you to sports you may have never heard of as well as provide you with a more in-depth look at some of the most common sports in the world. From cricket to basketball to rugby to gymnastics, there are professional leagues around the world focused on nearly every sport ever created. That is not to say that sports are the same in every country, however. Sports jobs abroad will expose you to the ever-changing, constantly growing global sports industry, as well as all the challenges, oddities, and pleasures that come with it.
Sports have existed in every corner of the globe for many centuries, and the tradition of sports shows no signs of ending anytime soon. However, the type of organized sports that produce the need for working professionals which exists today in many countries, is not something that has been around forever or something that necessarily exists everywhere. In order to warrant actual employment opportunities in sports, the nation and sport must have enough resources and public interest to make competitions profitable. The largest organized sporting leagues can be found all across Europe, North and South America, and Asia, but the following are some of the top countries when it comes to sports jobs abroad.
China is a nation that has seen a surge in interest in sports over the past few decades. With its enormous population and an increasingly large budget for sports entertainment, China is a fascinating place for overseas sports jobs. Many Chinese television networks now broadcast soccer and basketball games that take place around the country and the world, as these are two sports in which China has seen increasing international success. In fact, international competition is where China focuses much of its “sporting” energy. Whether gymnastics, table tennis, or badminton, all of the latter sports see Chinese competitors at the top of world championship and Olympic podiums, along with many others.
Spain. The Spanish are known to be a very passionate people, and that passion shines brilliantly when it comes to the nation’s sports industry. Arguably the sports powerhouse of Europe, Spain is home to multiple world champions in tennis, swimming, diving, and cycling. The Liga ACB, Spain’s professional basketball league, is consistently ranked as the second best on Earth, behind only the NBA in terms of both talent and profits. Finally, the kingpin of Spanish sports is, and likely always will be, soccer, although it is locally called futbol. Nearly any Spanish city is home to dozens of sports clubs, although the nation’s largest club is located in La Liga, which happens to be one of the largest and most profitable soccer leagues in the entire world too. Sports jobs in Spain are everywhere, and some will not even require that workers have the ability to speak Spanish. However, like all sports jobs abroad, applicants must possess a burning passion for sports!
India is a great place to look for sports jobs abroad if you want to become more familiar with sports that aren’t necessarily common in the Western world. Cricket, field hockey, and badminton are some of the most popular sports played in India, with a solid history of global competitiveness in each one respectively. Training techniques for professional athletes in India lag behind many other nations, but with such an enormous population, marketing is key to the success of leagues all around the country. Therefore, sports marketing and advertising professionals will find a great deal of interest and sports job opportunities in India.
Sports Jobs Abroad
The types of sports jobs that can be found around the world are as diverse as the types of games being played. Every sport in the world needs players, coaches, training staff, strategists, and numerous managers to continue functioning and maintaining popularity, but teams also need individuals with specific skills, such as marketing, to truly be successful both nationally and internationally. The following are five of the most common types of sports jobs abroad:
Marketing & Public Relations. For sports leagues anywhere to be successful, fans need to come to the games, and that’s where the invaluable skills of a marketing or PR professional can be applied to the sports world. A thorough understanding of the local culture and the interests and needs of fans is needed to be successful in this type of sports job abroad.
Sports Management. The athletes play their game and the management takes care of pretty much everything else. Sports teams everywhere need trained managers to deal with employees and organizational concerns. Sports venues also need their own type of managers, dealing with issues ranging from ticket sales to stadium upkeep to concessions and souvenirs.
Coaching & Instruction. The saying goes, “Those who can’t do, teach.” So if you have accepted that you’ll never be a world class athlete yourself, you can always find work abroad training the next generation of athletes in your sport, or even coaching individuals with less grandiose aspirations. Coaches are expected to know their particular sport inside and out, however, to be able to convey their knowledge to athletes ranging from children to full-grown adults. While professional coaching positions are few and far between, youth sports everywhere are in constant need of knowledgeable coaches for anything from recreational teams to sports camps to one-on-one lessons.
Athletic Training. An athlete’s purpose is to compete at the best of their ability, but that would not be possible without a team of athletic training staff to help them along the way, both preventing and treating minor to major injuries. Athletic training is perhaps one of the more intriguing and easy to adapt to international sports jobs, as the subject matter, the human body, doesn’t change much regardless of the location on Earth. Sports jobs abroad focused on athletic training can often mean extended periods of travel, since athletic trainers often travel along with their teams, which can make for an even more rewarding experience.
Media & Journalism. With the rise of communication technologies, like the internet and satellite television, sports have become something that people on opposite sides of the planet can enjoy simultaneously and with the same level of loyalty. Along with growing interest in foreign sports comes the need for media and journalism professionals to bring coverage of those sports to interested audiences across the world. A mastery of the local languages is a must for anyone wishing to work in sports broadcasting or become a copywriter for the sports section of the local newspaper, but it is also possible to find sports journalism jobs in media companies that focus on distributing sports news via the English language too.
Salary & Costs
Salaries will vary greatly between different sports jobs abroad, as the type of work being done and the country in which it is performed will determine the salary received. For example, an assistant coach for a semi-professional field hockey team in India would never expect to earn the same salary as a club physiotherapist for a team in England’s Premier League. No matter what the job, those who work in the sports industry are typically paid quite well in comparison to local costs of living. Although, basic sports jobs, like statistics keeping, may pay a very minimal wage. By no means will you easily become rich while working abroad in most sports jobs, but it is more than possible to earn a respectable salary relative to the local cost of living.
Regardless of salary, accommodations are almost always provided to employees that travel with teams. A place to sleep and a decent meal is important for athletes to be successful, and all the other employees that make a team function effectively often share these same benefits, especially while on the road. Each individual sports job will typically come with its own range of benefits, including items like health insurance.
Overseas sports jobs can provide sports enthusiasts with many more job opportunities than they may have access to at home, or at the very least more types of sports to choose from. Individuals will soon learn that just because a certain sport isn’t overly popular at home, certainly doesn’t mean that a career in that particular sport isn’t possible abroad.
On the other hand, many sports are truly global games. Although working abroad in any specific sport won’t always mean working for the biggest and best league the sport has to offer, the international experience will be extremely beneficial nonetheless.
Wherever you work abroad in sports, you will be contributing to the global spread of the sports industry, making it possible for future generations to share in the fun!