Behind the Scenes: Preparing for the High-Stakes World of Football Interpreting
Stepping onto the pitch for a high-profile game isn't just about mastering the language; it's a meticulous dance of preparation and nerves. Here's a glimpse into the backstage beautiful and organised chaos, meticulous planning and research that goes into ensuring seamless communication on the field.
1. Immersing myself in the game Days or even weeks, and for weeks, before the match, I dive headfirst into the world of football. From watching past games, press conferences, studying team formations, players’ and coaches’ accents as well as their career paths, I immerse myself in the game. This is crucial. Understanding the nuances of football jargon, back-references to previous events, matches or players’ names, cities and stadiums, ensures I'm not caught off guard when players, coaches, or officials throw a curveball my way.
2. Player profiles and key phrases In football, every player has a distinct style of communication. Knowing the personalities, preferences, and preferred phrases of each player is akin to holding the keys to a linguistic treasure chest. Whether it's a motivational pep talk or tactical instructions, being attuned to individual communication styles is a game-changer. In addition, everyone has their own accent. Studying them carefully by accessing previous material, puts me ahead of the game. It’s important to know who is playing, who they are, how they did in the last game, if they are injured, if they are suspended. The more I know about them, the less likely I am to misunderstand something they say when working with them.
3. Familiarizing with tactical playbooks Football is not just a sport; it's a tactical battlefield. Understanding the strategies and tactical playbooks of both teams is essential. Coaches convey critical information through codes and signals, and it's my job to decode and relay these messages accurately. Watching the game as it unfolds, provides me with critical context and inside information. What happens on the pitch is what will be discussed later in the post-match press conference. So watching the game, being part of it, is critical. I watch live, at the stadium, listening to commentaries in both languages I interpret, to pick up phrases and descriptions from the commentaries.
4. Anticipating high-pressure scenarios High-stakes matches come with high-pressure situations. There are cameras everywhere. Everyone is watching and listening. If you forget a word, if you miss a phrase, you need to have the right strategies and training in place to avoid panicking, bounce back quickly and ensure nobody knows you’re terrified inside.
5. Building a rapport with players, coaches and media teams Trust is the linchpin of successful interpreting, especially in the world of football. Building a rapport with players and coaches is not just about language; it's about understanding the dynamics of the team. Being a familiar face instills confidence, making the communication process smoother when it matters most. Note-taking helps tremendously with that. I ensure I say the exact names, numbers, scores, locations and other factual information they say. The moment they feel I convey accurately what they say, they trust me. And so the press conference can unfold smoothly with everyone having the confidence that their words are transmitted correctly.
6. Staying calm under pressure As the tension escalates on the field, staying calm under pressure is non-negotiable. Deep breaths, clear focus, and a commitment to the task at hand become my mantra. My brain suppresses distractions and feelings, so that I can perform. The ability to filter out the noise and deliver precise interpretation in the heat of the moment is a skill honed through practice and experience.
7. Practical preparation Half the success lies in arriving early, showing up and being professional. I ensure I know where I am going, I plan my journey, dress appropriately for the conditions, take the necessary equipment such as pads, pencils, phone, charges, iPad etc.
8. Don’t forget to breath and enjoy Once I know I have done absolutely everything in my power to prepare, there’s no reason to stress. There are always elements outside my control. Things can go wrong of course. With experience over time, positivity, faith and appreciation for the job, living in the moment, and embracing the opportunity, nerves go away, and difficult situations can be handled.
In the world of football interpreting, preparation is the name of the game. The pitch is a linguistic battlefield, and as interpreters, our goal is to ensure that nothing gets lost in translation. It's a challenging role, but with the right preparation, we become the unsung heroes, ensuring that the beautiful game speaks a universal language for all to enjoy.
Vasiliki is a translator, interpreter, transcreator, blogger, consultant and director of Greek to Me Translations Ltd. She works with English, Greek and French herself and has a team of trusted colleagues who can cover other languages. The offered language services serve mainly the legal, creative, marketing & advertising, fashion and media industries.
Vasiliki is a Chartered Linguist, member of the Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIOL), the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) and Panhellenic Association of Greek Translators (PEM). She is registered with the Greek Consulate in the United Kingdom as a certified translator and interpreter.
She holds a BA in English Language and Linguistics and Masters in Business Translation and Interpreting. As Member of Council to the CIOL and Board Member of the IoL Educational Trust she overseas and supports the organisations' strategic goals.
Being involved in her industry means often delivering public speaking and writing for industry magazines. Her mission is to help organisations and individuals achieve their goals through the power of words. Through The Translators Mentor, Vasiliki helps aspiring or young translators to overcome self-limiting beliefs, build a business mindset and achieve their highest potential.