The Incredible FIFA Master journey and how it has already changed my life, by Thuba Sibanda

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The Incredible FIFA Master journey and how it has already changed my life, by Thuba Sibanda

Thuba on the pitch

A few weeks ago I said goodbye to Namibia and moved to Leicester, United Kingdom to be a full time postgraduate student as one of thirty two International students this year to embark on this journey.

The FIFA Master - International Master in Management, Law and Humanities of Sport

-is organised by the International Centre for Sport Studies (CIES) in partnership with three universities, De Montfort University in Leicester (England), SDA Bocconi School of Management in Milan (Italy) and the University of Neuchâtel (Switzerland), and it was created to promote management education within the sports world. It has developed to become a top graduate programme developing all-around managers who can cope with the increasingly complex world of sport.

Gaining a place into the FIFA Master in itself is an incredible opportunity, and being the only female from Africa this year makes the magnitude of this achievement huge. I am grateful for the platform serving at P.A.Y. and with the Namibia Football Association (NFA) has given me, leading me to this new chapter of my life, where I can learn from sports industry experts, when it comes to the business of sport, the preserved history, heritage and legacy of sport and everything to do with legislation, policies as applies to sports law.

It’s only been 13 days since I bid farewell to P.A.Y., and how life transforming these two weeks have already been. For starters meeting new people and engaging with 26 different nationalities from all over the world opens up your mind to the realization that the world is a big place with so much diversity and culture yet when we come together we are well able to learn from each other and grow. I thought socially, engaging with different people would be hard but nothing had prepared me for how much exciting it would all be. Right from teaching my Argentinian friend how to dance to deep African house, to sharing a plate of pap and beef stew with my colleagues from Europe and Asia, and to learning how to shake to Despacito and finally understand the words while at it. The journey so far has been immensely rewarding and already my memory bank is full of pleasant experiences.

I have since watched my first English cup game, as I was live the day Leicester City played Liverpool for the Carabao Cup on Tuesday the 19th of September. Leicester recorded their first win at home for the season; A victory that could just have been spearheaded by the novelty of the moment – of an African girl, silently rooting for her home team to seal the victory – chanting together with the crowds “ Come on Leicester “ and falling immediately in love with the motto #fealessfoxes. Right there in that moment, I felt the sense of belonging that comes with having something in common, and as my heart swelled with pride and warmth at having been so blessed to experience this, it suddenly dawned on me – how it has all been worth it. The years of dreaming and working towards the dream, the sacrifices of leaving home and going to Namibia to become part of a whole new world. Suddenly in that moment it dawned on me , how privileged I was to have been given the opportunity to inspire hundreds of young people at P.A.Y. and young girls within the national team structure that know me as coach, mentor and role model.

And to all of you, friends and colleagues that I have worked side by side with, this moment belongs to all of you for inspiring me every day, for believing with me, and for picking me up when I was down and in doubt. The P.A.Y. learners are my world, and I care passionately about each of them and know them all by name, keep encouraging them, believing in them and steering them on to success. And on my behalf give them hugs and smiles and enough love to keep them warm.

Message to the P.A.Y. Learners:

I have repeatedly said this to you and will say it again on this platform,

"all is possible if you believe, if you have a dream, and work hard at it, it will be achieved. If you can ignore the present circumstances and use what you have – talent, effort, and strengths – to propel you to the next level then you must. I believe in you, I remember every dream and fear you shared at the river bed, and during our intimate gatherings around the bonfire where we encouraged each other to keep fighting. I learnt from you every day, just as you learnt from me. And now it’s time to do what we promised each other, be there for each other, go after our dreams and see each other at the top."

Exactly 5 days from now I will have my first assessment, that’s how hectic and intriguing this course is, only 2 lessons and I’m already flipping through volumes of books trying to find knowledge and information that will spur the learning on. As I do my part not to let any of you down, I hope you do yours too as you prepare for and write your examinations. The first exam is on the 3rd of October right? The effort you put in, will reflect the results you get. Hope come December, we will be smiling and saying congrats to all of you for having made it. We are looking at nothing but 100% pass rate this year, and as the volunteers and staff do their best to help you during this time, hope you do your part as well getting there.

I love you all, will keep the updates coming, till I see you all again.
Ms Thuba

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