Global Sports Mentoring Program

img_4240What I witnessed on Sunday was truly inspirational. I had the honor of attending the Global Sports Mentoring Program, Class of 2016’s presentations. The goal of the Global Sports Mentoring Program (GSMP) “which is run by the U.S. Department of State and espnW and is administered by the University of Tennessee Center for Sport, Peace, and Society, is to empower women worldwide through sports. Each of the so-called emerging leaders, who have built some experience in the sports industry, is paired with an executive at a top U.S. organization. While they’re in the U.S., the participants and their mentors will shape action plans to take back to their home countries.” Every emerging leader goes through an intense four-week mentorship program.

Rabia Qadir (Pakistan)

Prior to the start of the program, each year, each emerging leader had identified a key need or challenge facing girls and women in their home country. The class of 2016 presented their action plan over the course of two days. I attended day one. From the first eight presentations, I can say with confidence, the most amazing thing to see was how unique each and every plan was. Not one plan had the same vision as another, each emerging leader talked about different initiatives to achieve their goals and each plan will make an ever lasting impact.

I began to talk to various individuals of the program including mentees, mentors, program developers and other GSMP advocates and the amount of energy and vibe I felt was incredible. Each and every person in the room wants to be able to change the world, one action at a time. Some of the emerging leaders have established organizations and others are starting fresh but, each leader walks away with more information and resources than ever before to grow or jump start their program. Not to mention the countless number of life long memories they make along the way.

Some of the emerging leaders from day one of the presentations…

“I can be a voice for women who don’t have one.” – Paola Kuri (Mexico)

Silvija Mitevska (Macedonia)

“Sport gave me endless opportunities.” – Silvija Mitevska (Macedonia)

“Women’s voices are not heard in Pakistan.” – Rabia Qadir (Pakistan)

We all know that women and girls who participate in sports gain life skills that will allow them to transcend in leadership roles. Everyone deserves a chance and everyone has the right to participate in sport but not everyone has the opportunity. With their network broadened and having more resources available to them, through the GSMP these women will succeed and more will have that opportunity.

Learn more about the program here:

You can also join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #EmpowerWomen.

Neha S. Contractor (SAinSports Team Member), you can follow her at @nehascontractor. 

7 Successful South Asians Working in Sports


We are back to highlight another set of successful South Asians making a name for themselves in the sports industry. This list boasts South Asian men and women thriving in sports leadership, creative production, advertising and journalism.

Check out these 7 South Asian professionals who work in sports.

Asha Thacker
(@ashaiscool): Sports Partnerships at Facebook. Asha is currently leading sports partner development for Facebook in India. Previous to Facebook, she led the partnership function for IMG Reliance Ltd, (a joint venture company formed by IMG and Reliance Industries Limited). Before working in sports, Asha had an extensive global career in consumer goods, fashion, and non-profits. Asha is certainly cool!


Atul Khosla
(@atulkhosla) Chief Operating Officer for the Chicago Fire Soccer Club. Atul holds an undergraduate degree in an Industrial Engineering from the University of Wisconsin- Madison and worked in Healthcare for at General Electric for several years before completing his MBA at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. After graduate school, Atul secured his first role in the sports industry serving as Vice President of Business Development and Operations at Alli Sports (A Division of NBC Sports). Since 2011, Atul has served as the COO of the Chicago Fire Soccer Club. In 2013, Atul was named Crains Chicago 40 Under 40.


Alykhan Ravjiani
(@AlykhanKR): Reporter – Toronto Blue Jays, Canada. Alykhan’s path in sports started in 2009 as a High School basketball coach and referee for the Mississauga Monarchs Basketball team. After getting his certificate in Sports Journalism at Centennial College, Alykhan became a sports writer/reporter for the Toronto Observer, Pan American Games and Tennis Canada. He also worked in media relations for the Toronto Raptors and the NHL before acquiring his current position as a Toronto Blue Jays MLB reporter. In addition to his work as a reporter, Alykhan launched the Sports From The 6 platform, a place where young professional journalists have the opportunity to hone their craft and create a portfolio.

Neeta Sreekanth
(@NeetaSreekanth): NFL Social Media at ESPN. Neeta started her career in sports as  Ball Kid for the Dallas Mavericks and later interned at the LA Sparks and CBS Television. After completing her undergrad in management, Neeta honed in on a niche in sports. She focused on Digital and Social Media for sports and worked for the Dallas Cowboys before her current position at ESPN.


Rohan Nadkarni
(@RohanNadkarni): Writer for Sports Illustrated. Rohan graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in journalism. While completing his undergrad, Rohan wrote for The New York Times as a Sports Blogger, The Miami Herald, Deadspin and Sports Illustrated before becoming a full time writer for in 2015.



Pooja Van Dyke
(@Brooklynpbjs) Associate Director of CreativeWorks ESPN. Pooja boasts more than 11 years of experience working in Sports; from studio and remote production, brand marketing to integrated marketing. She holds an undergraduate degree in Broadcast Journalism from Ohio State University. Fun fact, Pooja is an Emmy Nominated Associate Producer for ESPN!


Harshal Sisodia
(@SuperHarsh) Global Digital Brand Director for Nike. Harshal is an award-winning digital producer and director with a distinguished career in advertising and marketing. He is a creative leader focused on discovering innovative and interactive experiences for the world’s leading sports and entertainment brands such as Burger King, Sprite and Nike. As the Global Digital Brand Director at Nike, Harshal has received more than 5 awards for his work Jordan The Last Shot campaign.







ESPN Seahawks Reporter Sheil Kapadia

SAinSports got in touch with ESPN’s Sheil Kapadia to get his views on the NFL, Colin Kaepernick and South Asians working in sports. Check out the interview below. 

Bristol, CT – August 25, 2015 – Photo Studio: Portrait of Sheil Kapadia(Photo by Joe Faraoni/ ESPN Images)

Current Location: Seattle, WA

Occupation and/or Organization: ESPN Seahawks Beat Reporter

Why did you choose to have a career in the sports industry?

 Sports were always just my primary interest growing up. Whether it was watching the Philadelphia teams, reading the newspaper, listening to sports-talk radio or playing with friends in my neighborhood, they were just a big part of my life. When I was finishing up high school and deciding what I wanted to do in college, I figured I might as well try to get paid for something I enjoy doing anyway. And that’s how I landed on a career in sports.

What is the best part of working in this industry?

It’s fun and unpredictable. That might sound lame, but it’s the truth. No two days are going to be the same. When you’re covering a game – whether it’s high school, college or professional – you have no idea what’s going to happen beforehand. You analyze matchups, interview players and coaches and make predictions. Then the game starts, and oftentimes it goes in a different direction. I love covering practices in May when the teams are planting the seeds for who they want to become in November and December. The games are always a blast. And there’s a huge difference among the players. Some are fighting for a job on the practice squad; others are highly-paid superstars. That makes for a fascinating dynamic.

I enjoy going to work and doing my job. By the second or third day of vacation, I’m usually ready to get back at it.

Advice for people trying to break into the sports industry?

Make sure you’re able to bring something different to the table. Every faction of the industry is getting more competitive each year. When you are trying to figure out your path, try to come up with new ideas. If it’s in journalism, when you start covering a team, look at what your competitors are doing and try to make sure you’re adding something different with your coverage. Find a way to produce quality content and set yourself apart. The same goes when applying for internships. Employers want to know how you can help them. What’s your area of expertise? Or are you able to do a bunch of things well?They’re not looking for someone they’ll have to babysit everyday. They want someone who can be an asset to what they’re trying to accomplish.

What has the reaction been with the Seattle Seahawks players as Colin Kaepernick continues to take a knee during the national anthem?

Kaepernick has a ton of support in the Seahawks’ locker room. Guys like wide receiver Doug Baldwin, cornerback Jeremy Lane and defensive end Michael Bennett have all applauded him for his efforts. Lane sat for the national anthem during the preseason, but once the regular season started, the Seahawks decided to link arms as a demonstration of unity. The Seahawks want to follow Kaepernick in terms of bringing attention to topics like social and racial injustice and shootings by police. But they also want to make sure they are following through and using their platform to help find solutions. Baldwin has set up a “Building Briges” task force and routinely meets with policy-makers and members of law enforcement.

You use to cover the Philadelphia Eagles before the Seahawks and having been to multiple NFL stadiums, how loud can it really get at CenturyLink Field?

Honestly, that’s tough to say since I sit in the press box. The Eagles’ fan base was in a much different place when I covered the team than where the Seahawks’ fan base is now. The Eagles have never won a Super Bowl, and there’s a constant feeling there that something is about to go wrong. The Seahawks are in the golden era of their franchise, so fans have a much rosier outlook.

Some say the NBA is the most progressive sports leagues in the country, what are your thoughts on the NFL in this regard?

I have not covered the NBA (although I am a fan), so I can only go by what the players have told me. Guys like Richard Sherman have mentioned how the NBA encourages players to show their personalities. That’s obviously not the case in the NFL with the league clamping down on taunting and celebration penalties. In terms of analytics and social media, I’m not sure there’s much about the NFL that would be described as progressive. But I haven’t done a ton of research on this topic to have a detailed, well-informed opinion.