Sempreinter got a rare treat before the Napoli game at San Siro, we got the opportunity to hang out with the Inter Channel crew behind the scenes to see what we as International fans miss out on. But maybe not for long (Sempreinter exclusive). Cohesion, passion and team play. The team on the pitch? No the crew behind Inter Channel.
The main characters at Inter Channel are;
Roberto Scarpini: Channel director, host and the voice of Inter for so many fans since he started with radio commentary and still commentates during the games (the one from the 3-2 game vs Samp is legendary).
Alessandro Villa: Up until a few weeks ago commentated the Primavera games and a journalist at Inter Channel. Now he covers the senior team with Scarpini and Nagaja Beccalossi. The only negative part of covering the senior team? Alessandro will not be able to be in the curva for the away derby this season, for the first time in 12 years.
Nagaja Beccalossi: Known as Lady Inter by the fans online she is not just a skilled journalist who usually handles the studio with Alessandro and the show Drive Inter (among other things). She is also the daughter of legendary Inter no 10 Evaristo Beccalossi and an interista since birth. And she is stunning.
Now that we have introduced you to the main characters, come join us for an evening behind the scenes; there are few things that can beat an evening game at San Siro, so when coming close to the stadium I looked up in the failing light and just took it all in. After all these years, the sight still astounds me. After getting into the arena, I scrambled after Alessandro Villa who was waiting in the mixed zone in front of the cameras. There were over two hours until the game but San Siro was buzzing with activity and the Inter Channel crew were about to start their pre-game broadcast. Inter employees in blue blazers were running all over the place. The explanation for the extra commotion was simple; President Erick Thohir was present (he had also been present for the Primavera 4-1 win in the derby earlier in the day) and would soon come down to do interviews. After two horrible performances against Cagliari and Fiorentina everybody felt like this game could be vital for the season.
Alessandro stood calm in the midst of it all, preparing for his interview with Thohir talking to Inter Channel director Roberto Scarpini while the camera men got the lighting right. Rafa Benitez walked past with the Napoli team saluting everybody with smiles and slaps on the backs. Suddenly the door behind me opened up and in came a smiling Thohir to begin the string of interviews; first in line was Inter Channel. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Alessandro take a few quick breaths in preparation while Thohir got in place and then they began in English. While Alessandro’s excellent English didn’t surprise me I was very much impressed by the intern Andrea who was translating live during the interview for the Italian viewers. When the interview was over Andrea smiled broadly while wiping his brow and receiving compliments from Scarpini and the others around him.
After a few quick words, Andrea took me with him to the new studio in the stadium where Nagaja is standing during the pre-game broadcast while Alessandro stays in the mixed zone. The producers then handle the back and forth with the two journalists who alternate interviews and pre-game analysis with jokes and barbs at each other. While walking towards the studio Andrea talked about how happy he was with being at Inter Channel, as an interista and aspiring journalist few things would beat that. “It is hard work and stressful, especially tonight because Thohir is here. But it is really great and I love it”, he said as we were passing through the VIP section with the impossibly skinny and beautiful people.
This evening was the first time they tried out the new studio in the stands, and according to viewers commenting on twitter, it looked like Nagaja was floating above the pitch. While Nagaja handled the pre-game information and the producers switched between her and Alessandro who was still down in the mixed zone the camera crew and technicians were busy fine tuning and testing the location for the first time. All the while Andrea the intern was sent scurrying back and forth to see if any interview subjects were coming up to the set or just to fetch more info for Nagaja. Information that Andrea jotted down on paper and gave her out of camera while she was on air. Paper, which would be tossed towards the cameraman when he once again complained about how she stood.
All the while there was the curva singing and whistling (aimed at the Napoli players). When there were just a few minutes to kick off; the analysis of Thohir’s interview and pre game predictions were all done and I saw five balls of paper around the cameraman we all scurried towards the press stand to watch the game. Scarpini and Alessandro were there already and the IC crew took their seats as a united team to enjoy the game. For Alessandro and Nagaja this was probably the only time during the workday they could relax, well as much as it is possible to relax when you are an Inter fan that is. I watched the game next to Alessandro and it was obvious he is one who to stands in the curva when possible, he could not stop himself from humming with the chants and songs. The game ended 2-2 and while it felt then as if it could be start of a new beginning for Mazzarri’s Inter, as we know now that was not the case. But then and there you could feel a certain optimism in the air, because the team finally felt alive and kicking. And angry.
After Alessandro had finished applauding the team standing on his chair in the press box it was time for the after game analysis where Scarpini handles the mixed zone while Nagaja and Alessandro are in a studio in the darkness of the low levels of the Meazza. The live show then goes on until midnight with player interviews both from the mixed zone and the studio. While Nagaja and Alessandro were getting ready for another TV appearance and comparing notes Andrea the intern was busy scanning the news sites for interesting quotes from the protagonists so that the hosts would be up to speed. Most of the talk was about food when off camera and mainly it was Nagaja doing the talking, Alessandro who had also commentated the Primavera game at 11 looked tired. But after a few laughs he adjusted his collar and got ready to start.
Unfortunately few of the players were talkative this evening, and neither was coach Mazzarri. The players were tired and the ones that did talk only stopped in the mixed zone. All but Juan Jesus who gladly came into the studio. He was upset about not winning but very happy with the curva which he said “gave him goosebumps”. When the clock was nearing midnight the camera guys were getting tired, but Hernanes who was speaking to Scarpini was more than talkative and the guys behind the camera were jokingly showing each other the time to indicate that it was time to sleep. After the interview with Hernanes is done Nagaja and Alessandro salute Scarpini and the fans on TV and they are off the air just after midnight.
While getting ready to leave San Siro amongst the chit chat and family feel in the group (which was more than amplified by Nagaja’s mother showing up) I couldn’t help smiling. It was nearing 1 am and the guys had just found out that they were to have a meeting in the morning at 9. After a long day few of us would be happy to hear about a meeting early in the morning. But Alessandro, Nagaja and Andrea just smiled and joked about who would bring breakfast as they walked away towards their cars discussing the following workday.
When I asked Scarpini earlier what made the Inter Channel crew special, he replied “Passion and vocation”. And he was right. They are cohesive, professional and there is a strong sense of team spirit in everything they do. A unified front against all the things that happen outside of the club, with aggregator sites stealing quotes and content without crediting the source, or just spinning the truth out of context. The most striking thing with the evening was how close all of them were to cracking a smile amidst all the stress surrounding their workday. I guess it is easier to work hard when you have the best job in the world; following the team you love up close. And I for one can’t wait to be able to watch Inter Channel in the near future. Let us know what you think below in the comments!