Two overseas students gain insights during NFABD internship

|     Khairil Hassan     |

TWO students from the UCFB University Wembley Stadium concluded their two-week internship at the National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (NFABD) yesterday.

The internship was held from January 4-16.

Bentley Rounding and Brad Smith’s internship was handled by NFABD Technical Director John Whittle while they were in the Sultanate.

The two interns received certificates and Brunei national jerseys from the NFABD Technical Director.

John Whittle said, “It was the NFABD President’s initiative that we can be more professional in the way we work and as an organisation from an operations’ point of view.

National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (NFABD) Technical Director John Whittle with Brad Smith and Bentley Rounding from UCFB University Wembley Stadium. – KHAIRIL HASSAN

“More importantly, the NFABD President wanted a better and professional relationships with stakeholders and also encouraged sharing knowledge with other stakeholders, clubs, schools and others.

“It was also the NFABD President’s view to have more involvement with universities and colleges to give experience internship.

“Not only for foreign students, but also to give Brunei students the opportunity to do internship overseas. To gain experience and maybe working to get a sports degree.”

He added, “The game is not only about athletes now, sports is a business and there are many opportunities. There are many avenues – financial, commercial, competition, administration and all different kinds of areas involving all different kinds of sports in different codes around the world.

“I hope that maybe we can encourage Bruneians to go overseas and study more in relation to sports management, sports business and many more.

“It’s a great opportunity to bring the two gentlemen (Bentley Rounding and Brad Smith) in for two weeks and let them gain more knowledge and a bit of experience around football environment, a bit of operation and even business operation, just to share our knowledge with them.

“We hope that they return with some experience and knowledge about how national organisations or football organisations work, in technical, competition, operational and financial basis. I hope their experience here will aid in their studies.”

Brad Smith said that he spent the first week in Brunei in the Financial Department and learnt how the budget was obtained through the FIFA Forward programmes and the AFC.

“From there, I was looking at the budget breakdown, seeing where the budget and expenses was going for 2019 and the half of 2020. It works in two halves – first half of 2019 you get half budget and second half you get half budget.

“It was interesting to figure out how the budget was given and criteria that have to be met, and how NFABD go about ticking the boxes they need to get the funds.

He added, “The second week I was in the Technical Department looking at the Grassroots and Youth Development initiatives. I was taking in the financial perspective, seeing how they could improve financially, be more efficient and be more sustainable to aim for a longer period rather than short term, to prove the athletic side to be more competitive over, say, a 10-year period.

“Bentley and myself created a small presentation on initiatives that we believe could help achieve the goal to be more competitive.”

Bentley Rounding, meanwhile, said he looked at a different perspective and started in the Technical Department.

He said, “They presented their ideas in the Grassroots and Youth Development, and I’ve looked at it from a commercial perspective, see how they can make it to be more sustainable by adding more sponsorship and commercial income to these initiatives from the programmes.

“I spent the second week of my internship in the Financial Department and I made a plan on how they can use the FIFA Forward funds and AFC funds, and how they can budget that with the commercial income that I suggested they could take and how this can help NFABD be more sustainable.”

John Whittle said, “The programme is new to us and also new to them, but it’s building relationships with the university they come from. Hopefully, they’ll do this on a yearly basis.

“We’ve given them experience and further in-depth knowledge as well as taking them out of their comfort zone from where they come from. It’s an ongoing business relationship that we wanted to create. Not only with their university but other universities as well. If they can do it longer in the future, we’ll do that.

“We just have to take it slowly, that’s our goal to build and can create pathways for our own. Not only as an intern, but also for them to do degrees or diplomas in Sports Business. It’s a prime opportunity in other ways to promote Bruneians, not only them going here but us going there for further studies.

“It’s up to us to create opportunities and to also get involved in Sport Business Management It doesn’t necessarily be football, it can be other sports. Sports is a business and we have to work operations-wise as a business.”

The NFABD Technical Director added, “Brunei is a developing nation and it’s difficult to gain funds, for example sponsorship, especially when you’re not successful on the pitch. Because of that, we are solely relying on the FIFA Waive Forward Programmes and AFC Financial Assistance programme. It’s a very tight budget from operations costs to meet international needs for the teams plus the domestic needs.

“But we are going to make changes and bringing in a sponsorship manager to hopefully attract financial sponsors. It’s a slow process, but things will change for the better. Clubs and the community will benefit from it, and hopefully we can create better international players to be more competitive in the future.”