Sport – A Career Choice: 1-2-1 with Dragomir Catirau
Welcome to our ‘Sport – A Career Choice Series’, a one-to-one meeting with sport professionals. On a regular basis, we will discuss sport career paths with leaders from the industry, who will share their tips, journeys, backgrounds, experience, ups and downs. At its core, this is an initiative to promote the exciting types of employment opportunities available in the sport environment.
- Can you briefly introduce yourself?
My name is Dragomir, and I have always dreamed of becoming a top football player. Sadly, I have never achieved that dream. Now I’m a young entrepreneur, and I felt challenged to return to the Republic of Moldova to make something of value in sport. I founded and now develop the union of footballers from the Republic of Moldova and my own futsal club. I don’t tolerate corruption in sport. I like to read autobiographies of renowned sportsmen, and I found my ideas reading Cruyff’s book. As for future plans, I’d like to build a sport hall and open the first futsal academy for children and youth from Moldova.
- Walk me through the step-by-step process that you went through to get to where you are today.
My parents decided that I needed to go into higher education, at the expense of sport. It was probably the right choice, because back in 2004-2008, players from Moldova didn’t have the possibility to travel through Europe without a visa, and were effectively stuck in the poorest country in Eastern Europe.
After university, I worked in Romania for 6 years in metallurgy. I often returned to Moldova, playing futsal on the weekends with friends in a lower division.
I was given the opportunity to take on a team as a young entrepreneur, and said to myself, “I’d like to have a futsal team to develop. It’s a great, entertaining sport, why not?” But I was undecided about returning to Moldova. To be sincere, it’s a country where you don’t really have possibilities to develop on the athletic level.
What made me return and get involved in sport was a man that I met. He was looking for a job, as a coach, and he was in a very unpleasant financial and emotional situation. I was also looking for coaches for the club. After a 15 minute interview he seemed like the right person for the club. After 2 months I found out that he was a European champion and winner of the UEFA futsal cup, a player from “Dina Moskva” and one of Russia’s best futsal players, teammates with the best striker in history, Konstantin Eremenko. Reading about him on Wikipedia I was in a state of shock thinking “WOW,” and that moment, I felt a huge challenge, because so few people become that high up in sports only to come back to Moldova, to a corrupted system that can destroy you by all accounts. I decided to return to the country no matter how hard it would be. I can’t accept this kind of things in sport. A champion shouldn’t have to live that way for the rest of his life and others too.
So I started on my journey in sport and participated in international conferences. I was lucky enough to participate in the UEFA Diversity Conference as a member of the FARE network from England. There, I got to know people from FIFPro who suggested to found a professional football player union in Moldova, and that is how I began to develop the union of footballers.
- What’s the…
highlight moment of your career?
I haven’t reached that moment yet.
best experience you’ve ever had as a sports fan in your country?
In 1994 when I was small, when Moldova beat Wales 3-2. The stands were overflowing.
one person / role model that has inspired you the most during your career?
I felt the most inspired and enthusiastic after reading Johan Cruyff’s book.
- What are the key objectives of the Football Player Union – Republic of Moldova?
To become observers and full members of Fifpro.
To inform football players about the opportunities and advantages of being a member of the Fifpro union.
To protect and sustain the rights of professional football players.
To give access and promote the importance of education before and after the career of a professional football player.
- What do you consider to be the best and the worst part of either being a sportsman or getting involved in the sport business sector in the Eastern European region?
The worst part in Eastern Europe is the corruption in sport, the weak development of its infrastructure, a lack of sports academies for children and good sports programs in schools, a lack of long-term development strategy, and a poor mentality.
The best part is that Eastern Europe has great human resources, creative and highly talented people who can add value to sport on a global level.
- Taking the Republic of Moldova as an example, which sport club do you believe does a great job at social media and fan engagement?
In the Republic of Moldova, sports clubs don’t do well with social media and fan engagement. You have to pay very close attention and at the championship matches the number of spectators can be low. The most efficient club when considering fan presence at matches is “Sherif Tiraspol” which always has a larger number of fans. They have a very well-developed sport infrastructure.
- What’s the one thing you think should be improved in the Moldavian sport that, if implemented, could boost this country’s sport industry?
In the Republic of Moldova there are many things to be improved and eliminated. The most important are investing in education and a higher quality sport infrastructure, elimination of corruption and poverty. A strong point could be the support of the industry of IT in sport which could generate consistent earnings for the sport industry and would have a positive impact on poverty and the long-term development of sport.