Who's afraid of the big bad media?

Post date: 25-Mar-2011 02:21:56

It is no secret that I quit journalism to become a freelance translator for two reasons: there’s more money in translation, and a translator’s daily life is more suitable to my personality than the hectic (lack of) routine of a newspaper reporter.

Nevertheless, I do like to wear my journo hat every now and then, and there's nothing better than combining both sets of skills in the same job, as I usually do when working in partnership with my friend Dan Brennan, top-class football journalist and editor based in Glasgow, Scotland.

Basically, Dan suggests a name and the main topics, and then I conduct the interview over the phone, jot down whatever the interviewee says, translate it and send it back to Dan, who edits and give the perfect finishing touches for publication in English.

A few weeks ago, we conducted an interview with Pedro Botelho, young Arsenal player currently on loan with Salamanca, for a piece to published in the Gunners’ official magazine. Botelho was a pleasant surprise, as I’ve found out over the years that many footballers don’t realise how important it is to have their words translated to a wider audience.

Botelho answered all questions and was eager to point out how hard he’s been working to eventually make it to Arsenal’s first team. And he knows that merely doing his job on the pitch can just go so far, as media exposure is key to sign the best contracts with the best teams in a world where signings are made more and more on the basis of expected revenues than possible trophies for the club.

However, at least two other footballers I had to interview on a regular basis were blind to that fact. Actually, they were afraid of exposure and would rather not speak out of fear of how their words might be interpreted. Even though quite technically gifted, both of them failed in Europe and went back to Brazil, and I bet that their lousy relationship with the media played a part in their failure.

On the other hand, I can recall very well at least three conversations I had with Marta, arguably the best footballer the women’s game has ever seen. Despite her humble backgrounds, she’s built up a reputation of being a player who not only excels on the pitch, but also understands the game in detail. She’s not afraid of talking about all aspects of football, and that makes good news and enhances her profile as a whole.

No wonder after several successful seasons in Sweden she’s now the most valuable player in the new WPS, arguably the world’s richest women’s football league. Would she be less successful if she were not as media-savvy as she is? Maybe not, but good exposure never hurts, and I’m always happy to take a break from my routine to help good footballers score their goals on and off the pitch.