Sanchez Watt doesn’t cling to the past. Not that there isn’t much to go back on time, but the future, his and of his two kids, are what he can influence now. At 24, Watt, the Kerala Blasters’ English forward, is young, but comes out far more matured.
Well regarded at Arsenal academy, and with a debut goal for the senior team in 2009, Watt should have been at the London training ground now. Or perhaps under the close watch of England national team coach, Roy Hodgson. He had the talent and abundance of pace in his legs. But he also had a nagging hamstring tear. Nevertheless, he is in Kochi now, and is making it count; he played a little over 45 minutes against NorthEast United on Tuesday and capped a fine performance with a goal that Arsene Wenger would have liked. As he says, he has to.
“I got two kids. My little boy, who I have named Sanchez Watt. Not junior, but just Sanchez Watt (he will turn three on November 14). And I have a daughter, Celia, she is eight months old. So when I get back, hopefully I go a winner and give them a medal. So that it’s worth coming here,” Watt said on Wednesday.
Watt knows a father’s duty. “The weight on your shoulders is different. You got someone looking up to you like [you’re] a hero. You wanna (sic) do well for your kids. You want to do well for the club.”
It is the reason he is here. Watt believes the Indian Super League (ISL) is a right platform for him to get back to where he wants to be. For Watt, ISL’s tight schedule is a boon. He needs to play more often and need those frequent matches to toughen up, to test his fitness.
“It’s a lot of games. A short period but lot of games, and I think that’s good for me. Obviously in England, it’s Saturday to Saturday, but here it’s (matches within) three days. I need a lot of games, I need matches under my belt. And not injuries. So I go back fit.”
On his decision to join the Blasters and travel all the way to India, Watt said, “This is a big club, Kerala Blasters, with great fans. It’s not like a normal club, there’s so much passion in the city, the people. Of course I’m not (disappointed). I made a decision, though I could have stayed in England. I just wanted something new, and I thought this was the right place for it.
But that also means leaving his family behind. His kids, who he clearly loves a lot, are minor social media celebrities themselves, with the frequent photos the dad uploads with hashtags: #Wattboy and #Wattgirl. “They haven’t come down here, cos (sic) of schools it’s very hard. Hopefully they would. But yeah… I FaceTime (a video chatting app on iOS). All the time. Yeah. Because of hours of difference, sometimes it’s kind of hard, and I like to rest early. But I make sure I FaceTime all the time.”
“That’s one thing about football. Sometime you don’t have a home. Even when you are back home, when you are in a club, sometimes you have to be away from home, away from family. But it comes with the job. I’m OK. It’s not easy, but you have to adjust to it. As long as you are doing something positive and bring something home. But yeah… you got to Facetime. You got to put alarm, to remember what time he finishes school.”
Responsibilities, however, haven’t weighed him down. A fan of Hip-hop and rap music, especially Jay Z and Kanye West, Watt belts out loud music in the car with his son. “He loves music; always in the car, loud music. Hip hop. But he likes all kind of music. Slow songs, funky, disco, we play reggae too.”
Watt also likes to think of himself as a brand, and even has a slogan: ‘Swazzy’. “Yeah. Basically it’s something like you are in good vibes or good times. So I say, Swaazzyyy.. When you are enjoying the moment, you say Swazzy. That’s like a slogan.”
Watt isn’t relucant to attribue his slogan to describe the Blasters fans, either. On being asked to describe the atmosphere built by the fans in his first ISL game for the side on Tuesday against NorthEast, Watt said, “Oh, I just would say Swazzy. Cos (sic) that’s what they are. I have never felt something like that before. Obviously I have played at the Emirates. But 60,000. To hear the crowd roaring before the first whistle, and then for 90 minutes… even on extra time (injury time). That’s crazy.
“I’m calling the player. He is next to me, but he can’t hear. The atmosphere is priceless. I would say it’s priceless.”
Despite the sway of the fans, Watt is clear about where his priorities lie.
“For now the focus is football. That’s all I want.”