International Centre for
Sports Studies

Avenue DuPeyrou 1
2000 Neuchâtel
Tel +41 32 718 39 00


Fri. 16 April 2021

Impressions on the CIES education programmes (part one)

In September 2020, five former students from the FIFA/CIES Executive Programme in Sport Management started the 21st edition of the FIFA Master programme at De Montfort University in Leicester (England). Three of them provided an insight into their impressions of the CIES education programmes and their careers. Today we give the floor to David Ribeiro, a graduate from Nelson Mandela University (NMU) in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

David Ribeiro, a South African and Portuguese dual-national, successfully completed the NMU/FIFA/CIES Executive Programme in 2018. Prior to this, he studied Sports Science at the University of Pretoria and then obtained a B Coaching Licence from the Confederation of African Football (CAF). Prior to making the 'long journey' to Europe for the FIFA Master programme, he spent most of his professional career in football-related activities: Goalkeeper Coach for the South African Football Association (SAFA) U-17 and U-20 women's national teams, Manager at Coerver Coaching South Africa, Programme Director at Arcadia Shepherds Football Club and Founder of David Vs Goliath Industries, a company specialised in the sales, marketing and distribution of sports and fitness equipment.

What are your impressions of the FIFA Master during the pandemic?

The objective of the FIFA Master has always been that we - the students - should all be together, no matter what. They have adopted a hybrid approach to learning. We attend online lectures and presentations, as well as face-to-face lectures. We also make field visits when permitted. The high level of professionalism of the organisers and guest speakers has enabled us to take full advantage of all the learning, no matter the limitations imposed in these odd times we are all experiencing on a global scale.

Why did you decide to dedicate almost a year to the FIFA Master? Was it a difficult choice for professional or family reasons?

Over the past five years, my goal has always been to work for FIFA. It was a difficult decision to leave my family, my career and my life in South Africa for a year. Nevertheless, I still do believe that this year in Europe will be pivotal for the future direction of my career. The benefit of the experiences, the interactions with different people and the knowledge gained will supersede all the sacrifices I had to make in order to be here in Leicester, Milan and now in Neuchâtel.

Was the NMU/FIFA/CIES Executive Programme useful in preparing you for this great experience? In what way?

Absolutely. It was very useful. Firstly, the knowledge gained during the Programme has been invaluable. Secondly, the courses at NMU helped me to improve my ability to work in a group, to collaborate with my colleagues on sport-related ideas or projects. This is an important advantage in getting the most out of the FIFA Master and moving forward with my career in the sports industry.

Who will be the sport managers of tomorrow? What qualities will he or she need to have?

The pandemic and its consequences over the last twelve months have highlighted the importance of being able to ADAPT and to OVERCOME. The sports managers of today and tomorrow need to be flexible and solution orientated. The most important quality is to be able to understand the ever-changing world in which we live and the constant challenges that result from it. One must be able to find new ways to overcome obstacles and achieve goals.

Will sport be transformed by the pandemic? In what way?

The pandemic has already transformed sport. The slow return of football after a big break means allowing more substitutes, the absence of fans in the stadiums and a number of players being side-lined because they tested positive for the virus. The pandemic has taught us or reminded us that "tomorrow cannot be predicted". In the future, only the ability to be flexible, to be innovative, to act swiftly and to adapt as quickly as possible will ensure the longevity and success of football and sport.

After the FIFA Master, what is the next step?

As I said, I would like to work for an international organisation such as FIFA or UEFA. In particular, I would like to be involved in football projects in Africa. My aim has always been to play my part in the development of African football. Perhaps I will have to wait a little while before I can realise this dream. But what is certain is that I will take any opportunity that would be a step towards this objective.

A favourite sportsperson?

There are three, in no particular order: Mourinho, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo.

What will you be doing in 20 years' time?

I will definitely be the Director of Football at one of the top European clubs.

This website uses cookies – limited to technical and analytical cookies – in order to allow your browsing and enhance your experience.

For more information, please see our cookie policy and our privacy notice.

I understand