Follow Your Passion! We have heard this phrase over and over in our lives either at school or on television. But why do so many of us find it hard to pursue something we love? Societal pressure, family expectations, risk factors, lack of finance, convenience, the list goes on. As the race for survival in today’s economically unstable times gets tougher, many people are giving in to parental and peer pressure by taking up jobs that they are not interested in. But all that glitters is not gold right? Stress levels rise as we tend to be unhappy in these positions hoping that we would be elsewhere. Pursuing your passion can lower your stress and contribute to overall happiness. Rather than being in it just for the money, people who are passionate about what they do tend to have a more positive outlook on life and are easily able to overcome difficulty through problem-solving.
Today, in our achiever’s feature, we learn about how a simple Goan boy turned his passion for sports and music into a career. And his infectious personality and smile are simple evidence that he made the right choice. For almost a decade, Sullivan Noronha has been writing about sports from around the world for Sportz Interactive, The Times of India in Pune, O’Heraldo in Goa, and FC Goa. Sullivan has been a fan of sports from a very young age. As a big sports fan, getting paid to watch some of the world’s best sportspeople and games, sometimes close up, pretty much was a dream come true for Sullivan. Beyond sports, he is also passionate about music being a very familiar face among the Karaoke circle in Goa. He decided to turn his passion into a profession by joining Goa’s top Karaoke group, Ka3aoke
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We caught up with Sullivan Noronha to find out about how he got started in journalism, music, and what he is currently up to. The excerpts of our conversation are below.
Tell us a little about yourself
I’m a journalist by trade and I also hold a Bachelor of Science degree in Biotechnology. Sport and music have always been a passion and I’m glad that I was involved with both of them professionally at some point.
What got you interested in journalism? Where did you study the subject?
From a young age, I always had a penchant for writing and for sport and was always a curious kid. That curiosity just grew as I aged. I decided to do my BSc only because I got in so easily to Fergusson college in Pune thanks to a fairly good result in the 12th grade. I soon realized that I wasn’t cut out for biotech and eventually made the switch to journalism after the completion of my degree. I obtained my journalism certification from Xavier Institute of Communications, Mumbai.
As a journalist, how did you ensure your work was accurate and factual?
Unfortunately, there’s a lot that passes as journalism today. The name of the profession is absolutely sullied by many across the country and the globe. The one must-do for every journalist always has to be fact-checking. When I worked with media houses, I ensured that I doubled and tripled checked my story for facts. I would do the same even for quotes given to me just to be doubly sure.
How would you manage the stress of tight deadlines?
Meeting deadlines is a key requirement of working in a newsroom and stress was a common by-product of not being able to meet deadlines. On some occasions, it just isn’t possible to meet deadlines (sometimes they’re unrealistic) but the thing is, you have to suck it up and just get at it because stressing about it isn’t going to help in any way. Thankfully, I was able to manage on most occasions.
Tell us about your experience at Sportz Interactive
Sportz Interactive (SI) was my first job as a journalist and it was a tremendously exciting experience. I joined the institution about a month after graduating from college as a content associate where my main task was to watch live cricket matches and commentate (via text) for sports sites like Castrol cricket, NDTV sport, and Yahoo cricket. Back in 2012, yahoo cricket was a thing! It was exhilarating because I was essentially getting paid to watch sport. The only negative was that I could be rostered to commentate on any match and not just ones happening in India. Therefore, work hours would be erratic and I would sometimes have to reach work at 2 am to cover a match in Australia or New Zealand. All that, however, was offset by a great work atmosphere and the fact that I was getting to watch sports as a job. Then in 2014, I worked with SI once again in the first season of the Indian Super League, covering FC Goa.
Can you describe the three best qualities of your writing style?
Creative, simple and accurate! I believe that the mark of a good writer is being able to communicate effectively what he or she is trying to say without having to make use of superfluous language which a lot of people tend to do to pass off as ‘good writing’. I generally keep it all very very simple so that whoever is reading what I write, isn’t confused or has to look up a dictionary to understand a word or phrase.
You worked at a couple of news firms. Which were they and how was your experience working with them?
I’ve worked with two news firms – The Times of India in Pune and O’Heraldo in Goa. The experience working with both companies was vastly different primarily due to the work atmosphere. At TOI, it was a lot more hectic with respect to meeting deadlines and closing the daily edition. We were essentially closing three different editions a night, namely, Pune, Aurangabad and Nagpur. Meeting the deadline for all three editions with a relatively small team was not the easiest task.
At Herald, I was responsible for Page 2 which had a different theme every day, and the weekend Herald Review pull-out supplement. Additionally, I was also given the responsibility to cover the Indian Super League which was something that greatly interested me. It was a lot easier to work at the Herald primarily due to my cordial working relationship with the resident editor and the executive editor.
How do you define success?
For me, success is just being happy with what you’re doing. The happier you are with your life, the more successful you’ll be. It’s that simple!
Your passion for sports led you to work as FC Goa’s club journalist. What were your responsibilities and most memorable moments?
Football is a big part of my life and I’m very very passionate about the sport. Needless to say, I’ve been a fan of FC Goa from its inception so it was fantastic for me to work for a club I support. I was the club journalist for FC Goa and as such was the medium of communication for the club internally and with the media. I was responsible for the website content, press releases, match previews, reviews, any other related content, interviewing players, coaches, being present for press conferences and other events etc. The most memorable thing about this experience was getting a chance to interact with the players, few of whom I’m still in touch with. Understanding the psyche of a player and interacting with them on a social and professional front was definitely one of the highlights of my stint with the club.
You are currently part of the Ka3aoke company in Goa. Tell us about your passion for music and your experience as a Karaoke host.
I feel extremely lucky to be born into a family that has strong roots in music and naturally it became a ‘thing’ for me from a very young age. Both my parents were musicians when they were younger, as is my cousin Mark Rocha, because of whom my love for Breaking Benjamin is so strong. Thanks, Markus!
My mum had a collection of cassettes in a drawer ranging from Cliff Richards to Don Williams to Elton John, Elvis, Whitney, Skeeter Davis, and Lulu to name a few. My dad stocked up on a lot of Konkani music and I would spend hours listening to these cassettes. I would ask for cassettes as a Christmas gift and save money to buy them to start a collection.
I had the opportunity to join the Ka3aoke company a few years ago thanks to Pierre and Ashly Fernandes. I think I hovered around Pierre long enough for him to give in, haha! It’s been a lot of fun doing this and I absolutely love it. I’ve done gigs at Cafe Mojos, Taverna, Cohiba, Beetle Pub, and Bar Code and a couple of private gigs too. I’ve met so many people over the last few years and made so many friends because of this passion.
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
100% my mother! She’s literally taught me everything I know today. She may have been a teacher professionally but she continued to ply her trade even at home for which I’m eternally grateful. The commitment she showed to her profession for over 50 years and to her family through many many turbulent waters is remarkable. If I could be half as graceful as my mum when I’m at her age, I’ll take it.
What piece of advice would you give to college graduates who want to pursue their passion?
I think being passionate in your profession is key to being happy and therefore successful. Therefore, my only advice would be to follow your passion so that your job doesn’t really feel like a job.
What’s next for you?
Unfortunately, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, I was laid off from my last job. I was working as the assistant lead of creative and communication at a new brewery in Goa. Now, however, I’m biding my time and looking for something suitable. The pandemic has stood in the way of so much since it broke out and as such, making plans for the future is a little difficult for the moment but I believe that everything will fall in place in good time.
Anything else that you would like to share with our readers?
Yes! Just wanted to add a little something about mental health awareness. A lot of people take mental health for granted today. I think people just need to talk to each other more and help someone who they think might need the help. This is a massive problem especially in India where mental issues are constantly swept under the rug. All of us need an outlet! So just talk to someone you feel comfortable with or listen to someone who is confiding in you. You might just save someone’s life without even knowing it.
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