Flemish lawyer Tim Smet studied the Master in Sport Management at the Johan Cruyff Institute in Amsterdam, to progress as a football agent
Tim Smet runs the Flemish law firm Nevisis with two co-partners. He also works as a football agent for a number of foreign agencies, as their agent for Belgium. Because he wanted to expand his activities in this area of sport, he decided to study the 2020-21 edition of the Master in Sport Management at the Johan Cruyff Institute Amsterdam, which he successfully completed: “It was hugely enriching,” says Tim. “Not only do you get a different view of the sports world and everything that comes with it, but also of yourself and your own capabilities.”
“Because I wanted to set up my own football agency, I decided to do the master’s,” he continues, “to get to know the sports industry better and build a bigger network in it. There are several challenges when you start a football agency, but I have committed myself to establishing a position within the football world within five years.”
It was a bonus for Tim that a number of the modules in the master’s program have also come in handy in his work as a lawyer: “I apply knowledge from the modules Strategic Management, Governance and Sport Marketing in the daily management of the law firm.”
To what extent has the Master in Sport Management contributed to your football agency?
The Master in Sport Management has given me strength to carry out my plans to set up my own football agency. Nothing is impossible, as long as you go for it and give it your all. Thanks to the content of the program, I have come to realize more and more that I actually fit into that world and that I could develop something. It gives you a lot of confidence when you get to know the background of the sports world better and become familiar with it. Having the master’s degree has of course been one of my selling points towards the agencies.
“Thanks to the Master in Sport Management I got to know the background of the sports world better and I was able to expand my network in sports. That strengthened my plans to set up my own football agency”
You are working and living in Antwerp. Why did you choose a master’s in Amsterdam?
There is no similar sport management program in Belgium. It also helps to broaden your horizon and (literally) look beyond the borders. In any case, a different country and a different mentality was inspiring for me. The innovative ‘Cruyffian way of thinking‘ has always appealed to me.
What were your personal ‘take-outs’ from the Master in Sport Management?
One of the most valuable elements of the program, I created together with my fellow students: Plan 14, an initiative for a good cause. It was one of the tasks of the Strategic Management module, but this action received so much response that we managed to raise €30,000.
It was also very instructive to be able to immediately apply the knowledge from the other modules in this project. A great collaboration coupled with enormous enthusiasm made this project a success.
“Because of the different backgrounds of the students, we also learned a lot from each other. Combined with our shared enthusiasm for sport, the ‘Plan 14’ project became a great success”
Such initiatives are encouraged from the Master in Sport Management of course. You learn a lot from the professors, but also from each other. All students have a different background and knowledge, which makes contact with fellow students very valuable.
What lessons from the Master in Sport Management do you apply in leading the law firm?
I also approach challenges differently outside of sport, because perhaps the most important lesson of the Master in Sport Management is to think outside the box. There is always a different angle to look at a problem that might offer a better solution.
“Perhaps the most important lesson of the Master in Sport Management is to learn to think outside the box”
Thanks to the master’s, leading a group of people and making them work together, now also more according to guidelines and less on gut feeling. Looking forward strategically to where you want your company to go, and how you can do that in a structured way, is also something I apply in practice.
What does the next step in your career look like?
Besides the law firm, I will focus on starting up the football agency. The urge I feel to really make something out of this is enormous. After all, I am convinced that—at least in Belgium—there is a need for sincere people in the football business. Players are still too often cheated, or are ignorant of what other people are earning from them. Shadowy figures and shady contracts rule this world and I want to change that with my own agency.
“There is a need for honest people in football business. Transparency and clarity are the two keywords I want to work with”
For me, the player is central, not the agent or his merit. Transparency and clarity are the two keywords I want to work with. All this, coupled with my legal background and huge network that I have been able to build over the years, seems to me to be a good basis to help footballers in their development as players and in the further development of their careers.
You see, I’m extremely motivated to fly.