The Leaders of Tomorrow

The best young talent from the sports industry will be recognised from 2015 following the launch of the Leaders Under 40 Awards. Matt Cutler reports.

There’s a perception in the wider world that major sports organisations are run by old boys’ clubs, comprised of former professional sportsmen who spend all day schmoozing and little time thinking strategically about ways to increase revenues.

Thankfully, it’s not true, and to recognise the new breed of senior sport’s executives who are thinking outside the box and making waves within the sports industry, event organisers Leaders and the Aspire Academy have launched the Leaders Under 40 Awards.

There are five Leaders Under 40 Awards categories covering different areas of the sports industry, and from 2015 one sports executive will be honoured in each: governing bodies; clubs and franchises; media and technology; brands; and agencies. Nominations for sports executives working in the five areas will be accepted online through a webform on the Leaders website from October 9. Entries close in March next year.

Who wins in each category will be decided by a judging panel, comprised of a who’s who of the international sports industry, including Emirates’ marketing and communications chief Boutros Boutros, EA Sports COO Peter Moore, FIFA vice-president Jeffery Webb and Scott O’Neill, CEO of the National Basketball Association’s Philadelphia 76ers.

A dinner celebrating the launch of the awards will be held this month at the world-famous BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) in London during the Leaders Sport Business Summit, where an inspiring sport executive from the world of sport will be recognised. This special honour will be awarded annually alongside the five Under 40 categories.

The Aspire Academy, co-creators of the awards, is the national sports centre of Qatar that provides sports facilities and academic learning for boys aged between 12 and 18. It is based at the Aspire Zone, which boasts some of the world’s most cutting-edge sports and sports medicine facilities.

Ivan Bravo, director general of the Aspire Academy, who is also a member of the stellar judging panel, says his organisation’s philosophy makes it a natural fit with the Leaders Under 40 Awards.

“At the Aspire Academy, we spend our lives developing and nurturing talent to reach their potential in sport and life,” he says. “That’s why we feel the Leaders Under 40 Awards is a perfect fit for our organisation and, with Leaders, we are looking forward to creating an incredible event that will become a real mark of success for those shortlisted.

“As a judge, I will be looking for people who are helping to shape the future of the industry, and those individuals who are looking to move their organisations forward through innovation and strategic-thinking.”

James Worrall, Leaders founder and CEO, says the awards have been launched in response to the sports industry reaching a crucial stage of its development.

“Innovations, strategies and ideas are now being driven by a younger generation of sports executives,” he says. “The Leaders Under 40 Awards are a great way to celebrate and recognise these individuals who are making a real impact on their organisations. The winners will be highly driven, passionate about sport, technically impressive and always looking to do things better.

“At Leaders, our vision is to inspire excellence in the sports industry by delivering the best content, the best speakers and allowing the best individuals to engage with each other. The Leaders Under 40 Awards allow us to highlight the incredible work being delivered by the most talented sports executives and will hopefully inspire others to raise their game to be nominated.”

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