Published: 15 May 2024

Trip to Mumbai

Harri Cizmic, Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Science, shares his experience of his trip to Mumbai.

Ian Jeffreys and Sahana Gopal at the NSCA Global Chapter Conference (3/4 delegates from the UK).

My recent trip to Mumbai (16-19 March 2024) began with the NSCA Global Chapter Conference, an event that showcased the burgeoning interest and developments in the field of strength and conditioning (S&C) within India. The conference was an excellent platform for learning and exchange, highlighting similar challenges faced by young coaches in India and the UK, especially concerning employability, further education, and qualifications.

For me, a standout moment was listening to Soham Desai (Lead S&C Coach for the Indian Cricket Senior Men’s Team) who emphasised the importance of gaining practical coaching experience early in one's career. His advice to "get your hands dirty" in coaching resonated well with the audience, and I feel he effectively showcased the importance of a hands-on approach to mastering the craft. Even then, many of the questions from the younger members of the audience seemed to be focused on further education, such as “should I get my Masters?” or “which is the best qualification to attain?”. This underscored a strong similarity with students in the UK, reflecting preference for academic credentials, which I feel often distracts from the value of hands-on experience as both a unique selling point in their CVs and a vital learning tool.

I also had the pleasure of hearing Chris Pedra (Head of Sport Medicine at Sir HN Reliance Hospital), who spoke on debunking traditional dogmas in injury rehabilitation. I was able to catch up with Chris for a drink the following evening, in the Parel neighbourhood. It was enlightening to gain Chris’s insights, as a South African national, on his experiences as an expat in India. Our conversation focused on the keen interest among the Indian population to learn from Western sport scientists, notably from the UK, which is recognised there for its exemplary grassroots sports system. We also discussed the potential for integrating injury rehab services into a university business model, which was particularly interesting from the perspective that it could provide experiential learning for our students alongside a potential income stream. 

Group photo outside main entrance to the Somaiya Sports Academy, with Dr Nitin Khanvilkar and his sport science students.

My third day in Mumbai was dedicated to engaging directly with the sports science students and faculty at Somaiya Vidyavihar University, in a visit arranged by Dr Nitin Khanvilkar, Assistant Professor in Sports and Exercise Science. Settled in the heart of Mumbai, the university offers a retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city. Its facilities and the integration of teaching with practical training were very impressive, particularly the innovative use of rooftops for sports practice spaces in a city where space is a limited commodity. 

During a tour of the university with NSCA representatives, it was inspiring to see how students are encouraged to practise their learning through coaching, testing, and training, embodying the dual role of athletes and scholars. Echoing Soham Desai’s words from the conference, it is clear their faculty values active practice as a tool for enhancing real-world problem-solving and enhancing employability among students. 

My experience in Mumbai has led me to develop a collaborative online international learning (COIL) initiative, and potential PTY exchanges, to further enhance employability for our students through international exposure and practical experience. I am excited to be discussing this further with Dr Nitin Khanvilkar and his team.

This trip was financed through the Lecturer (Teacher Track) Conference Funding, with approval from the FHMS Associate Dean of Education.

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