After a two year long wait, I finally reunited with my old classmates from the FIFA Master 20th Edition in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. It has been a dream to meet again as a class and have the same experience as previous editions of the FIFA Master Programme. But after the pandemic hit the whole world, that dream was shattered.
Torn by the Pandemic
We were forced to transition to online lessons and, later, to return to our home countries. I remember leaving Milan and staying in Switzerland for 10 days in quarantine. It was the first time I touched the snow with my own hands while staying in Neuchâtel. But I was scared to catch the cold during the pandemic.
In July 2020, we had our graduation online. My dream to meet Arsène Wenger in person was blown away. He was the patron of our class and a sport management legend. But all I remember was that he gave us words of wisdom and hope. We appreciated that, despite the pandemic, we managed to finish our studies on time. Every student had their own commitments and made their own sacrifices but we took it as part of the FIFA Master adventure.
Hopes and Dreams in the FIFA Master Programme
The FIFA Master programme is organized by the Swiss-based education institute, International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES), with the support of FIFA. The programme consists of three main modules: sports law, humanities, and management. Each module is done at three different universities. To participants, the FIFA Master is not only an academic programme but a journey which takes them through different experiences. We visited world sports governing bodies, like FIFA, IOC , FIBA, UCI, and UEFA just to mention a few, to learn more about their mandate and also to have the opportunity to network with sports leaders.
The journey started in Leicester, UK at De Montfort University with a class of thirty two adventurers from different parts of the world. We enjoyed the experience without knowing what the future was holding for us.
We learned different lessons from what happened. I can say the pandemic did not bring only negatives, but also positives. As a parent, I had left my 6 year old son who was commencing Grade 1. It was stressful that my son was starting school without my support. But I stayed positive and hopeful that he was going to have a better future. When I went back home in March 2022, flying from Geneva to Robert Mugabe International Airport, I was scared to meet my family. I had stayed three and half months in Milan, which was a COVID-19 hot spot. I was worried but on the other hand I had no resources to book accommodations for a 2-week quarantine. Schools were closed and my son had to stay at home. I had to find ways to make sure my son would stay on top of his game and remember the few concepts that had been taught at school. I helped him review the basics from kindergarten. The times were difficult but I was glad to be there with my family
The changes as the world started to forget the pandemic were welcome. Things were opening up and I was hopeful. I would even say that the past week was filled with gratitude. Last July 23, 2022 we finally graduated at the Castle of Neuchâtel while sharing the stage with the 22nd Edition of the FIFA Master. Handing over the certificate was professor Denis Oswald, the Director of the FIFA Master Scientific Committee. It was an incredible moment for me. I saw my fellow classmates once again. After so long, they still gave some of their precious time to come back together for this special week.
I appreciate CIES for planning a special week for us and everyone who was involved in the organisation
This was probably the last time that we were going to be together but the experiences will always stay in our hearts. As part of the FIFA Master tradition, we had the privilege to collect numerous experiences. We had the chance to visit, UCI, IOC, and FIFA. Our class will never forget the opportunity to have a match with FIFA staff. In addition, the time when we had dinner with alumni from different editions was incredible. We got to know them better in person and it strengthened the friendship within the FIFA Master Community. We realised that love is more powerful than hate and that our differences were unimportant when we were together.
Violet Jubane is the founder of Sports Redeem, a sports agency that hopes to unlock business opportunities for African sports communities to make the industry sustainable. She is also a consultant for Adrenalines Solutions on Sports Program and Development