Competitors Become Friends During COVID-19

What is the sporting scene looking like right now and where is it headed?

GYS chatted to Infinite Sports CEO Gareth Mordey to hear his thoughts on these broad questions, where exact answers still remain unknown as long as the current situation is unpredictable.

During the COVID-19 forced academy closures Mordey was not just managing the four academies under the Infinite Sports umbrella, but also worked to band together sports academies in the region to establish uniform protocols.

It has been a tough slog and academies are now starting to see dividends, although it is only the beginning of the return journey.

Watch the full interview and read some key points from Mordey below the video player.

Quotes from Gareth Mordey
  • Academies are a fundamental part the UAE and especially Dubai life especially in the school and sports scene. I’ve  never been anywhere in the world where I’ve seen so many private academies and sessions in multiple sports and across the sporting spectrum which is really good. The positivity is that there is a huge active population which I think helps in every area of life.
  • (We’ve had) very, very positive conversations with the Dubai Sports Council…they’ve been very close with a number of us academies to help us through the time and through this period. It’s been a tough time but it’s been a very collaborative time.
  • We have more numbers this summer than we’ve had in any other summer which I think is the appetite to get back combined with the number of people that have stayed within Dubai and the Middle East.
  • When I arrived in Dubai in 2005 there were three prominent sports academies and now I think there are more than 350 registered sports licenses and then there are others as well so it’s a phenomenal growth story and that’s great.
  • We decided to reach out to our partners, friends, competitors, industry and try and get around a table…to understand and sort of make things a bit more consistent in everything. It’s hilarious–I’m very open about this and I have no problem with this– we’re all competitors. It’s like Manchester United, Chelsea, Barcelona and Real Madrid all sitting at a table and saying ‘let’s get on now.’
    So we all made a little joke about that at the start and said look we will all be competitors in September and trying to fight and increase our own little business (but) at this time on March 15 or 16th (we agreed) we have to keep the industry open. We had an obligation to our parents, our children and our businesses, our staff, to work together.
  • In terms of a full long term recovery I think we’ll be waiting until about September 2021 if the whole scenario stays the way it is at the moment.
  • (On webinars and online trainings )In the initial lockdown period we had over 10,000 views of our video content which was really impressive… It was very much sort of how do we put content online for the industry and for the region and we had people logging in from every country around the world. I think we did upwards of 35 webinars.
  • When something as big as this happens it really tests people’s mettle on how they can move to an open mindset and changes their mentality. Imagine trying a project and thinking ‘this might not work’ and people take confidence from ‘I know this is going to work.’ It’s been very, very good and heartening and I think it will stand us in really good stead moving forward.