A Touch Closer

Posted: Sunday, December 19, 2010 by Kratik in
25


If you have ever had a dream and you dared to follow it, you must have realized that it’s not always that you find yourself seated in the prettiest position. As the time passes and the things don’t go in your favor, you tend to lose hope and start looking for alternatives. Somehow, from somewhere, when you think all is lost, he shows you a light in the dark that presents you with a glimmer of hope.

Even as a ten-year-old kid, all I wanted to be was a Sports Commentator. Due to a sudden turn of events, I find myself currently working for Real Time Sportscast as a Phone Football Commentator.

Tuesday, December 2: It was almost 10 o’clock at night and I was, as usual, whiling away my time surfing the internet and accessing Facebook; also wishing for my guru to ring his grace bell and shower blessings for my life to take a dramatic but an astonishing turn, especially after a torrid week which saw me not making it to Tieto for the post of a software engineer. For me to be searching and applying for an engineering job was an irony in its own, solely because in spite of being an electronics engineering student, I was one of few rebels in college who always mocked about an engineer’s job.

As the facebook chats with the same-old-people started to take its toll on me , my phone rang and it was a call from a school friend, Kush Sharma (Boon). We usually talk on weekends or before / after football matches in order to discuss about football or jobs / careers / opportunities in the world of journalism and sports. Thus, it was a bit strange for him to call me on a Tuesday evening, also because he usually is busy on the weekdays with his MBA and his college stuff.

He started, “Hello Kratik, you won’t believe what just happened; an awesome awesome thing happened to me now.” And I thought, “Ok good, what can it be?” What he told me next, literally took the wind out of me. He said, “Remember Anis, the guy to whom we wrote regading that 30 Euros a game commentary job, he called.” For once, I was shell shocked.

Anis Meziane, Country head, Real Time Sportscast (Algeria, Morocco, Kuwait, India, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Kenya, Sudan), had offered Boon a job as a phone football commentator for the Indian Football League (I-League) matches to be held in Pune and he was willing to pay him 30 Euros/match. I continued to talk to Boon for a few minutes and all I told him was to tell Anis to somehow take me in as well. Boon asked me to write Anis an email. I opened my gmail account and wrote Anis a mail as fast as I could; don’t know if I have ever written a mail faster!

Ten minutes on and Boon called me once again. All he said was, “Did you mail Anis now? Because as he was on the phone to me, he just read your mail and is willing to offer you a job as a phone commentator in Kolhapur so as to cover the I-League matches of the teams from Mumbai.” I jumped off my bed and started to celebrate like I had scored the winner in the injury time of a world cup final.

The following morning, I received an email from Anis letting me know that the commentator’s job in Kolhapur was vacant. I gleefully accepted whatever challenges the job had to offer and all I knew was that I had just started my journey.

Couple of days later, when I was experiencing music and melody with silence at Vikram Hazra’s concert, I suddenly received an international call. I ran outside the auditorium in order to attend the call; believe me, had I ran as fast at all times, I could have represented India at Olympics.

Guess what! It was Anis’ call. He told me that the games in Kolhapur were played over a course of two days and offered me a staggering 70 Euros/two games for Real Time Sportscast; 10 Euros more than the other reporters, thereby, taking care of my travelling expense. I confirmed my decision to work for Real Time Sportscast as a Sports Commentator and made my way back into the auditorium. If for a singer, Vikram Bhaiya’s voice wasn’t the best ever, it sounded even sweeter. He made me experience an unparalleled, ‘high’ bliss and had me dancing in trance, even after the concert was over. On my ride back home, it felt as if his voice reverberated in every corner of the street and it made me sing and literally move on my Kinetic.

For once, I didn’t know what was happening and the feeling was absolutely magical. I reached home, and told my parents that Anis Meziane called and that I’m officially working for Real Time Sportscast as a phone commentator. They had mixed feelings on me travelling to Kolhapur and covering football matches but they knew to what extent this opportunity really mattered to me and so, they obliged. As of now, I am currently two weeks into my job and have covered six games for RTS.

A special thanks to Kush Sharma (Boon) for everything.

Although I didn’t get the job as a software engineer at Tieto but now, I am doing something that is my passion. Even though this job with RTS is only about a percent of my dream, which is to Head the Sports Commentary section for Sky Sports, UK, it is at least a start to my journey and has taken me, if not much, a touch closer to my goal.

As they say, “When he doesn’t give you something, it’s only because he wants you to have something better.”

Jai Gurudeva J


Premiership: Weakened or Strongest Ever?

Posted: Sunday, December 5, 2010 by Kratik in
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Premiership, probably at the moment, is the most open league for anyone to win since its introduction in 1992. The emergence of teams like Bolton and Sunderland is making them competitors worthy of testing the best in the league. The league in my mind has stretched across a different range all-together, watching a resurgent Newcastle United side under Chris Houghton and a spirited Blackpool side under Ian Holloway, who in their own way have silenced critics that wrote them off even before the season kicked off. However, the question lies, is the league getting any stronger or in contradiction, getting weaker to such an extent that even an average side on any day can take points off so-called “The top four”?

Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal have clearly dominated the premiership; with Manchester United winning the league remarkably eleven times off the eighteen that the league has been contested. However, this season appears to be a bit different.

Manchester United

United, though unbeaten, have looked raged at the back and have already drawn seven games out of the fifteen that have been played. Johnny Evans, most notable, ever so brilliant looks completely out of sorts this season and has been criticized for United throwing away games at Everton and Fulham. United though have played smart in the transfer window getting in the likes of Javier Hernandez, Bebe, Chris Smalling and Gabriel Obertan and Sir Alex has been a magician over the years in getting the best out of the youth by playing them with the experienced players, one can’t stop thinking that these players have been brought for the future and still have a lot to learn. Although, United were brilliant against Blackburn at the weekend but they still lack that touch of class that has been a feature of United’s play since years. United for sure have weakened since the departure of Carlos Tevez and Cristiano Ronaldo. Though United might be stronger than what they were last season but they are definitely not the Manchester United we know.

107327281_crop_340x234Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Arsenal

Arsenal, though they look stronger than the last couple of seasons, they still are extremely vulnerable at the back and are horribly inconsistent to be even regarded as a serious title threat. Holding on to leads or finishing the game has simply gone out of the window since Henry-Veira-Pires era. Even though they play the best football in Europe alongside Barcelona but how many times have Arsenal been regarded as “bottlers who never reach their potential” and a side lacking mental toughness to challenge for top honors. The lack of experience and Arsene Wenger’s fear of handling egos has lead to Arsenal fans not seeing silverware since five years. Arsenal though stronger than the last season but their problems continue to persist and are definitely not the once called “Invincible Gunners”.

Chelsea

Chelsea, though played well at the start of the season, can’t seem to get over the loss of four influential players in Ricardo Carvalho, Joe Cole, Deco and Michael Ballack. It is so evident seeing their recent form and vindicates the fact that it is a side that lacks depth. Chelsea also have an ageing core to their side in Lampard, Drogba and John Terry with the likes of Essien, who is either injury prone or not the players he once was. They might have Malouda and have brought in Ramires but they lack a flair player like Robben, Joe Cole or a Damien Duff back in the day. Except Josh McEachran and Bruma, who are a couple of the best young players in England, they lack players who can walk in to the first team, unlike United and Arsenal.

107180191_crop_340x234Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Liverpool

As for Liverpool, I think even the Liverpool supporters wouldn’t deny that this is the weakest Liverpool team to have played in the premiership. Gerrard and Jaime Carragher aren’t getting any younger for the reds. They also lack replacements for Alonso and Mascherano. Poulsen and Raul Merieles are decent players but are they Liverpool quality, you have to question yourself. It’s a puzzle in its own as to how Lucas Lieva is playing at Liverpool. Liverpool have simply failed to replace quality with quality. Aquilani was a quality signing who failed to make an impact. He is performing exceptionally well at Juventus during his loan spell and so, there is a strong chance that Juventus, who have an option of buying Aquilani will make his loan move permanent. Kelly and Shevley are good players but you have to think that they are too young and inexperienced to make an impact at the premiership level. I mean, just have a look : Riise out, Konchesky in, Mascherano out, Poulsen in, Alonso out, Lucas in, Crouch out, N'gog in, Bellamy out, Jovanovic in, Benayoun out, no one in. Signing average players like Konschesky and Poulsen, a manager in Roy Hogdson seems to be turning Liverpool into Fulhum than into the Liverpool of old.

Spurs and Man City

Manchester City and Spurs are the only clubs who are getting stronger every day but still don’t look to impose a serious title threat. City with the owner Shiekh Mansour making multi-million signings doesn’t seem to be getting desired results and it only underlines the fact that money can’t buy trophies. Their title aspirations were questioned when City played for a draw at home to Manchester United. Having a manager in Harry Redknapp, Tottenham seem to be heading in the right direction. Spurs have a balanced side, with pace, experience, zeal combined with a team that plays some of the best football. But again, they majorly lack consistency. On one day, they teach the Champions of Europe a lesson; four days later, they get outclassed by Bolton 4-2 and the following week, they beat Arsenal at the Emirates 3-2. That’s Spurs’ story.

107179855_crop_340x234Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Rest of the League

For the rest of the premiership, Steve Bruce’s Sunderland and Owen Coyle’s Bolton has surprised a lot of people. Though they have won only four games this season, Sunderland have their tails up and their 3-0 victory against Chelsea has set a benchmark for anyone who wants to go to the home of the champions and literally insult the champs by playing better football for periods in the game. Sunderland have bolstered their squad by making top four loan signings in Nadeem Onuoha, Menshah, Elmohamady and Danny Welbeck, along with spending 13 million GBP on Asamoah Gyan. These are great signings who have performed well this season but you really have to wonder, if these players would have performed the same way had they been playing in the league five years ago. Same thing applies for Bolton, Fulham, Aston Villa, etc. and rest of the teams battling relegation; though saying that some of the managers like Chris Hougton and Ian Holloway have done a commendable job.

The fact of the matter is that the gap between the top four or now, the top six has reduced remarkably and it’s not because the entire league has gotten stronger. This is because, the top teams have weakened to such an extent that they are becoming challenged by the teams that would normally not stand a chance to even compete and would finish mid table. These top teams often finding hard to get results even against the teams that might eventually end up getting relegated. For example, Arsenal lost to West Brom 2-3 at the Emirates and United played a 2-2 draw against West Brom at Old Trafford. Chelsea in the recent past have proved my contention by picking up only five points out of the possible eighteen.

The English Premier League has turned into a weird league but one that has turned into probably the most entertaining league in the world. The reason of the overall competiveness and weakening of the league is not due to the teams outside of the top four getting ever so strong, which admittedly is a slight factor, but because “The Top four” have not been replacing “older” players and creating a new fresh cycle with the same level of quality.


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