Vinaya and Akshay, both interviewers for Interviewing India took the same bus for two years when they studied in the same college in 11th and 12th standard. They never had a conversation with each other. More than 10 years later, they meet to talk about Interviewing India and to get to know each other in a park. They then decide to interview each other, just for fun.
Akshay Sachdev, 31 years old, Freelance Writer, Pune
Interviewed by Vinaya Kurtkoti
Why did you decide to give us an interview on sports?
I recently started working at FC Pune City, and I think that sports is my whole life at the moment, from the moment I wake up to the time I fall asleep. I have grown up watching sports, and playing tennis and football. I’ve tried my hand at all sports, though I really enjoy these two and I still continue to play these two. It gives me immense joy to get on the tennis court or a football field.
What is your earliest memory of a sport you’ve played?
Growing up, tennis was more of a leisure activity than a competitive sport. But later, I did get the opportunity to play at a more competitive level, in tournaments. I even represented my school and college; it was always fun competing. Even though I didn’t play at the national level, it was a great honor to represent my school and college. Today, I still continue playing tennis for fun.
Do you have a favorite sport?
Tennis is definitely my favorite, followed by football. I love playing tennis, but football is also a lot of fun to watch. A game just lasts 90 minutes, its fast, there are hardly any breaks. The build-up to the goal, getting from one side of the field to the other, is like cracking a code. There’s a technique to the way they pass the ball to each other, and watching the build-up can be very exciting and there is a lot of skill involved in that. You need a greater attention span for tennis. It could last quite a few hours.
Have you considered teaching?
A lot of people ask me about tennis coaching or becoming a personal trainer in a gym or even yoga, because these are the things I have excelled at. I’ve thought about it but never taken it up because I have other interests as well. This could be something I did on the side; I’ve always helped people achieve their fitness goals, close friends and family. I’ve dedicated my entire life to following a fit lifestyle, to reading up and gaining knowledge about the human body. This has always interested me, but I have been a writer all along, so that’s where my career goals lie.
What does your current job involve?
I’m currently working with FC Pune City, which is the football club that’s a part of the ISL launched three years ago. My title per se is marketing and sponsorship, but we are a very small team so we manage everything, from trying to get sponsors on board to trying to get marketing tie-ups with companies, as well as trying to increase the fan base for our official fan club, which is called the Orange Army. We try to get people to come to the stadium. So sadly, even though Pune has a great sporting culture, we are very laidback. People watch the sport but they may not go to the stadium to watch it. There are hundreds of thousands of footballers in Pune, but we are not even able to fill a small stadium with a capacity of 5,000. This is very small compared to Calcutta or Kerala, where the stadium capacity is over 60,000 and they’re even able to sell out and fill their stands.
I also go to watch a tennis tournament called the ATP Challenger. Only if an Indian makes it to the finals are the stands full. We talk about Olympic champions, but we don’t support our sportspersons ourselves. Nobody wants to play to empty stands.
Why do you think people in Pune don’t go to the stadiums to watch games?
One reason could be the fact that the Balewadi stadium is on the outskirts of the city. But I feel people just don’t want to put in that extra effort, to take the time out from their work or their day. They probably believe that watching the game from the comfort of their homes on TV is more fun or more comfortable. I feel that the energy and atmosphere of a stadium is far greater. Our key goal this year is that people come to the stadium just once to experience the match.
When was the last time you watched a match in the stadium?
I think the last match I watched in the stadium was a Davis Cup match between India and New Zealand in Pune. There was a full crowd for that, so that was great. It was a lot of fun to watch India play. I even went to Delhi to watch the India vs. Spain match, though honestly I went there to watch Rafael Nadal, though I was supporting India.
The last question has nothing to do with your interview topic. But we ask everyone we interview – what does love mean to you?
Love is a feeling of attachment and probably togetherness, something that binds you, could be to a person or it could be something else, like my love for cinema. My love for cinema is different from the love others feel for it. They probably just love to be entertained by it. For me, it is much more than that; something very ingrained in it is the psychology of human emotions. My love for sports also is more than just its entertainment value. It’s what sports stands for. Love could be all of these things.