Match-day nerves

Whilst sitting in the booth last Monday, as I waited for the for the listeners to take their seats and for the speaker to finally get started, I got that tingling feeling in my body, that rush of excitement which I always seem to get just before a conference gets underway. It’s a feeling that is not exclusive to interpreting assignments, and as I tried to think about the occasions on which I’ve felt it before, I was taken on a trip down memory lane.

It took me back to the time when, as a teenager and also in single figures, I used to play football for a Sunday League team. During the football season, we had a match every Sunday and I used to spend all week looking forward to match day. And it was on match days when I used to get the same feeling which I now get in the booth just before the first speaker takes the floor.

Our Sunday League matches used to begin at 2 p.m. As we used to take our positions on the pitch for the game, that’s when the adrenaline would kick in and trigger that tingling sensation, that feeling of nervous excitement. The referee would shout „Keeper?“ to each of the goalkeepers, who then had to signal that they were ready for kick-off. Once both keepers had given the okay, the referee would blow the whistle and I could put all that built up adrenaline to work as we began our quest to dismantle the opposition.

And so it is too with interpreting, except instead of the teams taking their positions on the pitch, the listeners take their seats and put on their headphones whilst I have a quick sip of water and a little cough to clear my throat. And instead of the referee shouting „Keeper?“ to the goalkeeper, the presenter taps the microphone to check that it is working. After careful preparation for the conference, the big day has finally arrived, much like how I used to go to football training in preparation for match day.

However, my performance on the football pitch started to rapidly decline when I reached my mid-twenties. I hope my career in the booth won’t be quite as short-lived.

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