By Paul Osborne

Students from around the world are set to undertake the second edition of the MSA course at the Russian International Olympic University ©RIOUIrish kickboxing world champion Catherine O'Grady is one of a number of students set to undertake the second edition of the Russian International Olympic University's (RIOU) Master of Sport Administration (MSA) course.

Students from around the world will be travelling to Sochi for the course, designed to train them in the strategic and operational skills needed to manage sports organisations, events and facilities in any economic environment.

The majority of students hail from National Olympic Committees or other sports industry backgrounds, however some, like O'Grady, are former elite-level athletes themselves.

"For as long as I can remember, my goal in life has been to manage high performance athletes," said O'Grady.

"RIOU's Master of Sport Administration course holds the key to achieving this ambition by providing me with the competitive edge I strive for.

"Working within an Olympic setting will be like a dream come true, while an understanding of the business, marketing and management worlds that are intrinsically entwined with the sports industry and its smooth and successful operations will undoubtedly benefit me and open a vast array of doors in the sports business sector.

"On a more profound and personal level, it's a fact that women are still largely under-represented in leadership roles within the sporting realm, especially as high-performance coaches.

"This opportunity with RIOU can only be for the good by providing more women with the necessary professional skills to both succeed in and influence the sports industry in the future.

"I fully appreciate that being chosen as the Irish representative on RIOU's MSA course is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity so I will ensure that I gain as much experience and knowledge from it as I possibly can."

The first set of students graduated from the RIOU's MSA course in June of this year ©RIOUThe first set of students graduated from the RIOU's MSA course in June of this year ©RIOU

The students will study modules such as economics of sport and the Olympic Games; governance, politics and the Olympic Movement; research methods in sport management; sport and the Olympic Games as a business; and sport marketing and communications.

Classes will be taught by leading Russian and international experts in sport management, as well as professors from acclaimed universities and Olympic Studies Centres.

"Our MSA course offers full immersion in the sport management profession," said RIOU rector Lev Belousov.

"Apart from gaining theoretical knowledge, our students will see with their own eyes how sporting facilities and events are organised, and how effective marketing strategies are developed. Sochi's Olympic venues provide excellent opportunities for this.

"This year Sochi will be hosting more international events, such as the Formula One Russian Grand Prix.

"This will be the first chance for our students to get a hands-on management experience and will serve them well during the rest of the course."

The course is due to run over 10 months, beginning on September 22, with the students, who hail from 12 countries, being taught in English.

Many of the students have been awarded scholarships by the Vladimir Potanin Foundation to support their studies in Sochi, a foundation set up by Russian billionaire Potanin to help support future leaders who have the agenda of contributing to Russia's development and growth.

This year the RIOU is also launching its first full-time and distance learning MSA courses in the Russian language with the results of the competition to join the programmes set to be announced after September 15.

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