Author and a thought leader, with a proven track record in sports management and having rich global experience in managing and implementing numerous sports projects and programmes in a highly challenging environment with enormous success and impact.
Shaji Prabhakaran has spent more than 25 years in various capacities with domestic and international sports – from working in a National Federation to an International Governing Body of football, FIFA. He worked with world football’s governing body, FIFA as its regional head for South and Central Asia till January 2017 and managed various development programmes, projects and activities of FIFA in a different part of Asia since 2011.
He is a lead consultant with many global organisations involving strategy and management in sports, football development, sports education, football management, etc. Currently, he is the Senior Consultant for Asian Football Confederation and consulting FIFA as a Football Expert. He is also involved with International Cricket Council (ICC) as a Strategic Consultant for Global Cricket Projects. He is also working with Europe’s No. 1 Institute, CIES offering Sports Management programme. Shaji is the board of management member with Delhi Sports University, Govt of Delhi since 2021.
He was the National Teams Director and Head of Developments in All India Football Federation from 2004 to 2009. He got elected as the President, Football Delhi (Delhi Soccer Association) since 2017. His vision is to make Delhi a model football State in India and to make Delhi a vibrant football city, being a capital city.
He has successfully handled different roles, wore many hats and managed to juggle many tasks and projects in his over two-decade-old stint in the beautiful game— from being a research scholar to a teacher; from being a football coach to managing a company as an entrepreneur; from working extensively at grassroots football to supervising FIFA U17 World Cup Chile 2015; from dealing with various domestic football development projects to managing multiple international development projects. Till date, he was involved with more than 300 sports projects (Sports Education, Sports Infra, Sports Development, Strategic & Management Areas, Events, High Performance, etc. etc.) and events of varied levels, Grassroots to Professional Sports in many parts of the world including mega events like World Cup Under 17 in Chile 2015 and India 2017.
He has authored a book “Back To The Roots”, – a definitive guide to grassroots and football development. A first of its kind book which talks about how to develop football from grassroots to the elite level across the globe. The book is part of Asian Football Confederation football management certificate programme and the book is also part of sports management programme in few European countries, overall the book has received encouraging reviews from global experts.
Kerala-born Shaji was brought up in the Dooars area in West Bengal and his love story with football began in that sleepy, sylvan part of the country, known for its world-famous tea-gardens, in the foothills of the Himalayas. It’s his unbridled passion, indubitable commitment, and indefatigable determination which have made the incredible journey for a boy from a remote region to the highest echelon of world football possible.
As a player, he was an attacking midfielder, he started playing football at a very young age and at the age of 14 he was part of the Binnaguri (Bengal) Milan Sangha Football Club and played in the Jalpaiguri (Bengal) District football league before moving to MP where he represented Jiwaji University, Gwalior and Lakshmibai National Institute of Physical Education, Gwalior football teams in the All-India Inter-University Football Championships and MP State Football Championships. However, his career as a player was cut short due to a serious knee injury at the age of 22.
As a prolific coach, he successfully produced players, who represented India in different junior level tournaments for three years in a row. He is also a PhD in Physical Education and Sports (specialized in football) and an MBA, who holds different qualifications in sports management and football coaching. A leading expert in world football, he has already published a few scholarly works, apart from extensive writing on the game for different publications and appearing as a Football Analyst and Sports Expert on various television news channels. Shaji was a board member of the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) of the FIFA U17 World Cup India 2017 and was involved in every aspect of the World Cup from the day one. He was also involved with Government Sports Projects as an expert and consultant.
Demonstrated success in:
Football Management & Development
Planned & Executed Change Management Process
Sports Business Development
Event Planning & Operations
Strategic Planning & Development
Sports Grassroots Development & School Sports
Fitness Programming & Management
Negotiations – Funding & Sponsorship
Government & Political Leadership Policy Matters
Executing World Cup (FIFA U17 World Cup)