Rising Star awardee and proud Nelson Mandela University alumnus, Zimbabwean-born Solomon Mudege certainly lives up to the award in the 13 years since he first graduated with BCom HMS: Sport & Recreation in 2005, to promotion to FIFA Senior Development Manager, which he achieved earlier in 2018.
Mudege is also an MA Human Movement Science and FIFA/CIES/Nelson Mandela University Programme Sport Management graduate, which is an International Master in Management, Law and Humanities of Sport (MA) that must be completed at three international universities: De Montfort University in Leicester (UK), SDA Bocconi School of Management in Milan (Italy) and the University of Neuchâtel (Switzerland).
Like most boys growing up in Zimbabwe, Mudege’s passion was playing football at school and in more structured settings, but when he realised that he was not going to play football professionally he decided that a career in sports management seemed an acceptable compromise.
“I studied Sport and Recreation Management at undergraduate level, Business Management at Honours and then did research on talent development in football for my Master’s degree in Human Movement Science. I wanted a holistic appreciation of sport management and my qualifications at Nelson Mandela University allowed me to achieve that.”
Mudege says that he realised there was more to football and sport than just playing the game and was aware that sport management is a viable career and tried to prepare for it.
“I watched global sport events and could see that there was a lot of preparation and organisation that went into delivering the sport event. I also realised that there were a range of languages used in international sport. One of my earliest memories of the FIFA World Cup was listening to the Cameroon players being interviewed in French at the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy. I was fascinated, so when I was in high school, I studied French as one of my subjects and I am now comfortable working in French as well.”
Upon graduating Mudege began his career working for FIFA in Switzerland, starting as FIFA Master Trainee, followed by the FIFA Marketing Alliances Manager and now Senior Development Manager.
He explains what it means to be a FIFA Master Trainee; “After graduation from the FIFA Master in July 2010, I was selected to work in four FIFA divisions on rotation, mainly delivering event processes and content management. It was a great opportunity to ‘learn on the job’ at FIFA for a year and I was glad to be offered a permanent job following my internship.”
It was an intense year rotating in the Event Management Department (FIFA Competitions), Marketing Communications and Research Department (FIFA Marketing), Broadcaster Servicing Department (FIFA TV) and the Development Programmes Department (FIFA Member Associations & Development).
As Senior Development Manager, Mudege only focuses on development programmes in Africa now. However, the sub-division that he works in handles development programmes in both Africa and the Caribbean.
He is also responsible for supporting the Confederation of African Football in planning and implementing football development activities on the continent with FIFA funding of USD 10 million a year and ensuring compliance processes for FIFA support that is provided to the African member associations for the FIFA FORWARD projects which avails USD 5 million over a four-year period to each member association.
Such an impressive career path doesn’t come without challenges, even if it sounds like many a young boys’ dream of mingling with international soccer stars. “I definitely did not jump into my dream job. There were challenges and hurdles. Looking back, whatever obstacles I faced were important to get me to where I am today. I still face challenges in various aspects today and they will benefit me in the future as well.”
Mudege says that managing the FIFA development programmes in Africa and the Caribbean are an ‘immense’ honour. “It is very rewarding to see how I am contributing to football development of diverse countries such as Djibouti, Egypt, Gambia and South Africa.”
Ubuntu means a great deal to Mudege and he encourages alumni to look for opportunities to be involved with the university and sharing their experiences and expertise related to their current positions as well as giving back and developing other students.
“I am a regular lecturer on the Nelson Mandela University/FIFA/CIES Executive Programme in Sport Management and I come to PE at least once a year to assist the programme. I have also presented lectures for other departments as well, such as on Business Management.
“Since 2015, I have managed a scholarship (The Bester Award – named after my late mother) which assists selected female candidates to pay for their tuition for the Nelson Mandela University/FIFA/CIES Executive Programme in Sport Management. I also run an annual auction with each edition of the qualification to raise funds to buy sports equipment for local schools/clubs.”
Mudege’s advice for aspiring graduates is to encourage them to look for opportunities to practically apply what they learn in the classroom – while they are still studying. “While studying for my Sport Management degree, I also set-up and managed the website for our Campus Residence League. It provided me with work experiences that are still valuable today.”
Source Nelson Mandela University