INTERVIEW WITH SPORTS’ AGENT: GAVIN MKANDLA
Gavin Mkandla is a new entrant into the sports agent profession, and he plans to make quite a splash with the representation of his players.
PROMOTA: What made you get into the profession as oppose to other avenues such as coaching or media work?
GAVIN: I first got into agency work because when I came out of football through injury at 17, I didn’t feel that people would particularly take me seriously as a coach nor did I have the profile at the time to go into media.I also was not good enough to make it as a pro footballer in Europe.
PROMOTA: You came into the industry as an ex-player. Do you think that gives you a unique advantage when speaking on behalf of a potential client?
GAVIN: I do genuinely feel that being an ex- player gives me an advantage over agents who haven’t played the game. In addition to my love and passion for the game of football, sports psychology, I also have an entrepreneurial spirit, and experience selling to and managing relationships with senior executives at Futse 100 companies provide all of the skills needed to successfully advise professional athletes.
PROMOTA: The transfer window hadn’t even opened and already some deals were supposedly near completion. Is it normal for transfers to be organized prior to the window opening, despite not being publicized?
GAVIN: It’s always difficult trying to forecast what will happen on the transfer window. We all know how each window seems to bring surprises in the way of trades or particular players rising or falling from their projected spots.Negotiations often begin outside of transfer windows as clubs can actually sign players outside of transfer windows too but they can’t be registered. This just means they aren’t eligible to play until they have been registered.
PROMOTA: Are you recruiting other potential clients now that you have your first big client under contract? If so, what is your recruitment strategy and what tactics have you employed?
GAVIN: Right now the main focus of Ethicalsports Sports Management is preparing players for the upcoming transfer window and supporting their transition to life as a professional athlete.
It is truly a blessing to have these players as clients and we will actively recruit other potential clients. Our strategy is to pursue individuals who are high caliber athletes and outstanding individuals. We are implementing an agency model that will engage clients in business, personal and professional development opportunities that are unique and different to the traditional sports agency model, and have the potential to extend beyond their sports careers. So with that, there must be the right fit for both the athlete and Ethical Sports Management.
PROMOTA: The whole industry of sports management seems almost flooded with agents. Does that make your job more difficult?
GAVIN: There are over 450 licensed agents in England now but there are only a handful of credible ones. It doesn’t make any difference with our dealings with clubs as we are very well respected. If anything, it has more of an effect on young players and their families as they have so many agents to chose from.
PROMOTA: What’s the most frustrating thing when a player is moving clubs?
GAVIN: As long as the player is happy once he has moved, I don’t really find anything frustrating about the process.I have been on 4 continents in 8 months just this year alone. Players are prepared to move if the deal is right.
PROMOTA: To be a licensed football agent you need to pass a law-based exam. Is there anyway you’d reform the process?
GAVIN: I have a Law degree myself, the exam itself has a 10% pass rate as most people find id difficult.There are many ways in which the current licensing process could be reformed, but generally it has more to do with who is allowed to take the exam in my opinion. FIFA have now decided to deregulate agents as of November 2011 so the next ten months should be quite interesting.
PROMOTA: Give a piece of advice to our readers who hope to one day break into the business of representing athletes.
GAVIN: My career advice is always to follow your passion. After doing many things, I have been blessed to have the opportunity to do just that and meet great sports people. But assuming that’s why your readers subscribe to Promota and visit your site, I know it’s an old cliché, but this is a business. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry and your career comes with lots of personal and professional responsibilities that are 24/7. I believe success in business comes from finding a niche, be it by sport, geography, type of athlete/personality you want to work with, or service you want to provide. Then prepare, deliver what you say you will, and work hard.