That’s how Jonathan Rego summarized his work for a group of aspiring sports professionals. Currently the Head of Corporate Services at Mumbai City Football Club, Rego spent an interactive evening with the students of AISTS India. Encapsulating the stars of tomorrow with his unembellished experiences, he had everyone in class hooked from the get go.
His journey is like most of us in our 20s, trying to work out what exactly he wants to do in his career. After spending three years working in the banking sector in Abu Dhabi, his profound love for the NBA and the game of basketball drove him to search for a job that would give him a sense of fulfilment.
Kobe Bryant once said, “it’s not the destination, it’s the journey.” Rego seems to be living true to those words almost as if they were preaching’s from the Bible. He has had his share of ups and downs in the fifteen years he has spent in the industry, seeing the highest of highs he reckons money can’t buy, and the lowest of lows that taught him valuable lessons and nurtured his career.
For someone working in sports, it’s kind of funny how Rego isn’t an advocate for using the word “passion” when it comes to working in the industry. So, it’s all the more ironic to see that it is his passion that got him where he is today. As a rookie, his persistence knew no bounds, and it was rewarded in due time when he decided to reach the head office of Globosport in Bangalore on a whim.
Referring to Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, Rego himself will tell you that the universe conspired in his favour to help him land his first job in the sports industry. Once that happened, there was no looking back. That isn’t to say his journey is what most would call the Stairway to Heaven. For him, there were moments where it was more like a Highway to Hell.
As someone who spent his initial years working in sport as a content writer (like myself), he soon became one of the pioneers for sports journalism in the country. One of the founding members of the Nation of Sport, Rego built strong relationships in the industry as he turned his passion for sport into a business, while also realizing the value he brings to the table. After following all the aforementioned steps that he now describes as ‘essentials’ to working in the sports industry, he was served a bit of a reality check.
Unfortunately for him, after two ground-breaking years, Nation of Sport came to a close. In a situation as dire as that, most would quit. However, for Rego, the relationships he built over his time as an entrepreneur proved to be a lesson he made sure to pass to each one of us young aspirants present in the room.
Stressing on the importance of building relationships with character and integrity might have made it sound like Business Ethics class for some. However, with his captivating story-telling ability, Rego not only got his point across but also made it clear that he is a man of principle.
Despite things going south at Nation of Sport, he made sure none of his journalists were unpaid, even if it took six months. That’s because he knew the struggles of being a journalist in the country and as a fellow content writer, he made sure that he wasn’t someone who adds to those woes. After clearing his debts and beginning again, this time with a clean slate, he managed to get back on his feet and stuck with sports content.
It was Steve Jobs who said, “Failure can be the greatest thing in our lives.” Jonathan Rego’s story could well be a testament to that. Some might look back at Nation of Sport and say he failed, but the lessons he learned were priceless. His experiences as a founding member of one of the best sports domains in the country not only helped him learn a few lessons, but it also played a significant part in becoming what he is today – a jack of all trades.
After fifteen years in the industry, there are very few things that might miss his attention. So much so, that he’s adapted into his new role at MCFC like a duck to water. Still, he reiterates the fact that he’s always learning something new in an industry that’s growing exponentially in this day and age. Besides making it evidently clear that the grind never stops, that was another lesson for us aspirants looking to match the benchmark set by him and the others before us.
In his unique way, Jonathan managed to convey the message that it isn’t up to him to be the king. Like all faithful jacks, he selflessly serves the king, which in this case would be the sporting industry. As a die-hard basketball fan who grew up idealizing Michael Jordan, one of the ambitions close to Rego’s heart is his desire to create a sustainable ecosystem for basketball in India. He got a chance to work on that ambition in his early days in the industry, and is still striving to achieve that goal even today. Labelled as his “Tombstone project”, he dreams of building a high-performance sports facility for basketball in India and will leave no stone unturned to make that dream a reality.
Now handling corporate services at MCFC, his curious mind is still always interested in the story of people around him. That is perhaps a trait he built-up in his time as a content writer. Whether it’s a habit formed over time as a writer or just his subconscious mind, it made me realise that it’s one of those intangibles which a fellow writer like myself needs to incorporate. One of the key reasons why people love sports is for the inspiring stories it manages to script so often. And Jonathan Rego’s journey is probably one of the most inspiring stories out there for fellow aspirants like myself in the sports industry, and one that needs to be reiterated as a reminder to never give up.
By Pratyush Rohra, AISTS INDIA Cohort, 2023- 2024