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From Romania With Love

The title of this Article, with a twist, leads into some subtle innuendo, which might reflect on common reflections from the inaugural ‘Sport Business Chain’ extravaganza in Bucharest, Romania.

It was an absolute, phenomenal achievement and nothing but praise from me, for the 20-something year olds, who were the brainchilds of this innovative and novel gathering in Romania. Everyone, and I mean everyone, left the Conference, as fans of the two young entrepreneurs and co-founders of #SBC2018, Cosmin Albu and Teodora Busurca.

‘From Russia with Love’ is a 1963, British spy film and the second in the series, when Sean Connery played M16 Agent, James Bond. The reference here, felt appropriate, for a play on words, where we substituted Russia for Romania – as in some ways we slipped in and out of the Country somewhat akin to espionage. This comment is not meant in any way to detract from the huge success. But despite a loyal, captive audience of appropriate high-class speakers and delegates from the sports sector, the sprinkling of ‘keynotes’ from this homeland and ad-hoc representation from staff, mostly middle-hierarchy NGBs, the myriad of top tier influencers, stakeholders and Governmental decision makers were absent.

Why? It was attested this because Cosmin and Teo were too young. All I can say is shame on you and this directed to the Country’s Leaders and people that before I have admired and respected till now. Where was the Board of every NGB? Where was the likes of the CEOs and Directors of the Romanian Football Federation, the Liga, Romanian Rugby Federation and big brand Romanian sports clubs. Where were the celebrities the country has traditionally held up witth pride aka Hagi, Halep and Năstase (okay scrub the latter!).

The people who were here are the ones that should be focussed on. The self-chosen attendees of those absent organisations, if here at all (that were not necessarily of the Board level). I recall representatives from handball, triathlon, skiing, basketball, triathlon and softball. Well done you.

Two people that came across of celebrity status were George Ogararu (Ajax FC) and Andreea Ogagaru (John Cruyff Arena). They could not have been more articulate, well presented and knowledgeable and along with the academics, NGBs and policy-makers or strategists in the room, from Romania, are the future for growing this sporting economy and have youth on their side. Wake up the so-called leaders of Romania. Get off your backsides and support, finance and give a rallying call to build on this inspiration. Let there be a #SBC2019. Let the continuation of Romanian talent be showcased. I advocate Eastern Europe remains the focus, but drawing in Western acumen if it adds value. Let’s not pull any punches, Cosmin and Teo deserve recognition by the authorities for doing their job for them. The media were poor attendees also. Though both Mike Farnan, ex-CEO, Manchester United International (brought by me) and I were given exposure by various channels.

Particular recognition to another savior, Eduard Irimia should not go unnoticed, as this Founder of Super Kombat, contributed both clout and gravitas with a panache of Hollywood flare and injection of some movie celebs.

In the future, please do retain the youth, rather than adopt tired models of such as Soccerex where ‘has beens’ are in abundance. I loved meeting the likes of Wim Mathues, Ehsen Shah, Asli Koc etc. I met terrific people from Romania, Croatia, Turkey and Hungary.

Mike and I applaud Cosmin and Teo and genuinely want to see them achieve everything they rightly deserve, as the next generation of sports professionals and entrepreneurs.

I went with an agenda which requested a 20 minute presentation from myself, representing ACROBAT | FCSM. However, after an unexpected health scare and collapse of the in-situ Master of Ceremonies (MC), I was asked to front the entire Conference – MC-ing, introducing, awarding and cajoling – to help the two co-founders in any way possible. Certainly that challenge, where we worried for the life of that person was an unplanned action, stressful for all concerned and not one scripted on any event checklist. I was delighted to step in.

My media exposure was measurable, the digital footprint immense, my ‘black book’ of contacts expanded, the testimonials and feedback made me blush with pride. Jobs and project opportunities have started to arise from #SBC2018. The objective for ROI for me and my ‘partners’ must be to monetise these leads and filter the opportunities. I will continue to partner Cosmin and Teo and new found friends – and have to say I loved every minute of it. Mutumesc – thank you Romania.

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