Growing up in Ireland, moving to San Francisco for work and then relocating again to London for his MSc International Sport Management, Conor Walsh is walking evidence of the global nature of the sports industry and the transferrable skills acquired.

Now working as an Operations & Academy Coach at FC Barcelona Academy in Dubai, the former GIS Wembley student shares why experiencing the industry within diverse cultures has given him a unique perspective, and a competitive edge, in coaching.

YouTube video

He told us: “Moving to the Middle East, you’re dealing with people from so many different cultures. [It’s helped me with] the ability to be agile, be flexible being able to work together on problems that come up and figure out the solutions.”

But the beauty of the role lies in everything else it’s given him, and everything he’s given back. While sharing his expertise in the tactics and technicalities of the game is undoubtedly crucial, Conor’s role transcends the sport in many ways, teaching far more valuable lessons than those on the pitch.

He continued: “The Middle East is like no other place. Here in Dubai, there’s over 200 different nationalities, so there’s no real grounding or defining culture, so a lot of the time they’re coming to us and we’re putting the rules in place.

“We’re doing our best to get these kids not only a football education, but a global education, values, perspective and how to treat others. I think the last year and a half, I’ve experienced a lot more in terms of not only coaching from a football point of view but also coaching the individual holistically.”

Despite his love of the Middle East and the rewarding work he does, Conor makes no mistake about the epicentre of the footballing world: London. More specifically, Wembley Stadium, where he’d stroll into for several of his lectures and seminars.

He finished: “London is one of the top cities in the world […], it’s the football capital of the world. Living in London, being able to see the Wembley Arch was always a source of inspiration in the morning. Even if you didn’t want to be getting on the tube to go to college, once you entered in those doors at Wembley Stadium it’s an awe-inspiring place to be.”

Find out more about GIS’ MSc International Sport Management (Online) programme.