Ever thought about working in a huge open office surrounded by more than 80,000 people?
To me that’s routine.
The life of a football spotter at deltatre is made up of travelling around the world, watching games, tracking players, and feeling at home in any stadium. As long as you have good Italian coffee, of course.
This is an average match-day schedule for me. Although, I know, in a job like mine, nothing’s average.
The alarm goes off, time to get up. It’s match-day and it’s going to be a very long one, so let’s start filling the tank. Let’s go and have breakfast. Omelette, toast, ham, cheese, cereals, honey, milk, coffee and whatever it takes. When the energy gauge points to “F”, I go back to my room and get ready.
It’s time to meet the rest of the operations team in the lobby.
There’s me (the spotter), the tracking operator, the TV operator, the DMT operator and, of course, the supervisor. We’re off to the stadium.
Once we get there, I pick my equipment up and go to my desk in the tribune with the tracking operator, my “best friend” at the stadium.
Together we go through the morning test, set up the hardware and, most importantly, run the software.
If something is not working properly, this is when we notice it: plenty of time before the live match to figure it out.
Kick-off time for the rehearsal.
Once I get the green light from HQ, I can start simulating every possible situation that can occur during a live match.
Since I started working as a football spotter I have had to face tough situations to report: three/four shots in a few seconds, last minute penalty kicks, goals scored from a corner kick… Every event has to be recorded using a particular procedure.
And you need to be as fast as you are accurate, trying not to be emotionally influenced by what is happening around you.
This is why I try everything I can in the rehearsal, I want to be ready for tonight.
Rehearsal is over. We take our equipment to the van, pick up the rest of the team and go to lunch.
I have a couple of hours to work on our setup in the VIP Lounge, that place where guests enjoy food, drinks, music and catch up with all the night’s matches, thanks to our video feed on the monitors.
Cables run and connected, everything’s in order, I can go back to the van.
Time for a coffee. Our coffee makers in the van are famous in all the stadiums across Europe. We’re Italians, we have high coffee standards. That’s why we often have guests…
A few hours separate us from the match. I take a look at the teams playing tonight, study the players, and relax a bit.
The teams are finally at the stadium, the official lineups are about to be delivered and I should join my “best friend” in the stands.
Depending on period of the year and geography, there’s still one thing I sometimes need to do: wrap up as much as I can. A night winter game in Moscow makes you discover parts of your body you didn’t even know and, spoiler alert, they can freeze.
So, I wish my “van colleagues” good luck, the gates are now open. I reach the tribune alongside thousands of people.
While the teams warm up, I have time to study the lineups for the last time.
The stadium is full.
Fans are singing and shouting.
The anthems are playing…
Kick-off, for real.
Fouls, shots, passes, corners, cards, goals… everything has to be recorded in our system and then spread on TV and websites.
People following the game in different parts of the world and on different devices are now relying on me. Which is why I cannot get emotional.
It happens sometimes, I’d like to jump and scream for a great goal, or cry, moved by the fans singing all together. But, especially in those moments, I have to ignore my feelings and use my brain.
Every single bit of information I enter in the system is going to be part of the statistics that fans love to dig into, presenters explain on TV, team staff analyse to improve performances.
For the next couple of hours my hand and the mouse of my laptop will be one.
Eyes on the pitch, where nothing can be missed.
Half time. 15 minutes to relax and have a bite to eat.
The teams are back. Ready for another 45 minutes of great football and data gathering.
Final whistle, unless there’s extra time.
Time for a deep breath, the tough part is over. I have a few minutes to think about the match, check the last reported events, add possible missing details or modify some data.
Then save the work, switch everything off and gather strength. In the next few hours everything has to be undone, packed up and sent back to our HQ in Turin. So, sleeves rolled up and get down to work.
Everything is packed up, we’re tired, but we still have one more goal to reach… when we can hit the bar and finally have a deserved cool beer. It has been a long day, but it was worth it.
Cheers, to the amazing teamwork and to great football!