Ever been curious about what a sports analyst’s job exactly entails and what the role specifies?
Well, you’ve come to the right place then! We at SportsKPI are coming up with this series where we attempt to give you a better understanding of a profession, that has piqued the curiosity of so many and we start things off with Mr. Mishal Thanveer. Mishal has previously worked with the Indian Women’s National Team and is currently the analyst for the Indian U16 team.
So Mishal how are you feeling right now?
A: I’m feeling great. I have been looking forward to this and would love to share my experiences in the industry so far.
Q: Let’s get right to it then. What’s your role like at present? What do you do on a day-to-day basis?
A: So, much of my morning routine mostly includes preparing for the training session or matches, as we prefer to have our sessions in the evening. Much of the real work for me starts then. I record all the training sessions and once we are back from the ground, I review them. There are a couple of databases I maintain and after reviewing the sessions, they are updated and anything I feel is worth sharing to the coach is noted. If there are any further analytical requirements for the coach from the session, I work on that too.
Q: I see, so what changes for you let’s say a day before and after games and even during games? What is your role at that point?
A2: Well, the day before games it’s usually just a video session and I would have given the coach my inputs for the session the day before. Matchdays are a bit more different, we almost always have a team meeting before lunch and then we head off for the game.
Q: What’re your responsibilities during these team meetings?
A: Not much at that point. The coach conducts the whole meeting. My role is to make a note of our tactics and the individual player responsibilities so that I have a baseline when it comes to analyzing our performance.
Q: That baseline is pretty important of course and what happens during and after games then?
A: During games, the coach asks me to mainly focus on how the opponent is playing. Any observations I have are either immediately shared with the Team Manager/ Assistant Coach who passes it on to the Coach or if that’s not possible, I make a note of the same and share it during half-time.
As far as after matches go, immediately after coming back from games, the full match video is merged and shared with the coaches. I then analyze the game in detail, which takes me 4-5 hours to complete and I try to give the complete analysis with all my observations to the coach by the morning the next day.
Q: Great Insight Mishal! Moving on, you mentioned some of the things that coaches ask of you. Is there anything, in particular, they generally want to know about the game?
A: Normally post-match, the coach asks me for the standard analysis- wherein we look at the key aspects like Buildups, Transitions, Set Pieces, Pressing and Goals. Also, I might have to keep a tab on certain additional individual parameters. This might be sometimes certain stats like say, No. of Shots taken in the 1st Half vs 2nd Half or the No. of Tackles Committed in our Defensive Half. Else it might be certain clips like all touches of a particular player. It varies from game to game. Apart from this, impromptu requirements are always there, for example, designing the cutouts for our set-piece routines.
Q: Is there anything they ask of you in particular from an opposition standpoint?
A: Whenever there are match videos available of the opponents we are playing, I analyze their games and usually come up with an Opposition Analysis video, in which the playing style, key players’ strengths, and weaknesses are pointed out.
Q: Interesting stuff. Could you tell us about an instance where something you pointed out to the coach helped the team?
A: The best thing about working with Bibiano sir (India U16 Coach), as well as Maymol ma’am (India Women’s National Team Coach) in the past, is that they are always open to taking inputs from us. However, it is not just our inputs that make the difference.
There are a few instances that I fondly remember like once, the India U15 team was playing a friendly match and although we were playing well, we were struggling to find the final penetration. I observed that the opposition was playing a very high line and felt that the same could be advantageous. Once I shared this info, the coach made some tactical tweaks and this paved the way for our opening goal, and we won the game comfortably.
Another such instance that gives me immense pride is when the Indian Women’s Team was playing against Romania. Despite our best efforts, they were dominating with their unique buildup style. At half-time, I suggested a change in our pressing style and ma’am came up with an amazing pressing plan which worked wonders. Although we lost the game, even the Romanian coach appreciated the Indian team for the way we played in the 2nd half.
Q: That was pretty impressive. You’ve done quite a lot of work in this field. Any suggestions to people who would want to pursue this line of work?
A: For any budding analyst, the primary requirement, in my opinion, is a passion for the game. The daily chores can often get boring and it is the never-ending passion that can get you past such instances. Good observation skills and understanding of the game is key to developing oneself as an analyst. One suggestion I would give is to watch as many matches as possible and when you do that, watch the game not as a fan but like a coach, trying to figure out tactical stuff like formations, the pressing patterns and things along those lines. That would be a nice building block for any aspirant in my opinion.
Great stuff, thank you for your time Mishal and that concludes what I’d say was a pretty informative session. I’m sure that the people who’ve got an interest in your profession would take a lot from this. That wraps up our first interview of this special series. Do check back in, in a couple of days for part two, where we will cover other sports analysts.
Interviewed by Gautam Varier