Despite having no wins to their name in the season so far, Odisha FC have not been pushovers, with them showing resilience in attack as well as defence in the past 5 matches. We managed to catch up with one of their most reliable footballers in the season so far, Jacob Tratt, for a brief interview.
Having started playing football at the age of four, Jacob Tratt spent his entire career in Australia, slowly stepping up through the ranks - making his name in the much-hyped A-League. Some of the big clubs he already has played for are Sydney FC, Wellington Reserves, and Perth Glory. Not many would expect to get completely acclimatized with the environment, climate and the style of football in an entirely different country with non-similar priorities, but the Aussie has done his best to sail a smooth transition.
“Personally for myself, I have found the transition very comfortable, and that is with thanks to the amazing staff and team at Odisha fc as well as the team at Alila Diwa goa for making my quarantine and time away from the pitch as easy as possible as well. It does take a week or two to acclimatize to the humidity however the A-league is played over summer and being based in perth last year we get some high temperatures as well,” said Jacob Tratt, during an exclusive interview with SportsCafe.
Odisha FC showed promise in a couple of matches this season. In spite of a narrow loss to Hyderabad FC in the opening game, they impressed in small pockets, while the 2-2 draw against Jamshedpur FC in the following game proved they were no pushovers. Just when the ‘Juggernauts’ were expecting a build-up to their first win of the season, the back-to-back losses against an evenly contested ATK-Mohun Bagan side and Mumbai City FC posed a major roadblock in the ongoing campaign.
“Due to Covid our squad was late to get together for pre-season, our coach and myself only got out of quarantine 1 week before our first game and Cole (Alexander) not till after the first game, so for us we haven’t had a lot of time to work together, I honestly believe we are working together and understanding our team dynamics more and more every session, we have showed so much promise in games and have just had a bit of bad luck but we are working hard to turn things around,” explained the Aussie.
“Our loss to ATK was very heartbreaking because I honestly believe we were the better side on the night. But in football anything can happen even in the last few seconds of the match it’s just a reminder to never stop giving 100% till that siren blows and hopefully, next time we meet, our result will be different.”
Odisha FC posses an arsenal of exciting young talents and head coach Stuart Baxter has vowed to bring the best out of them. We have already seen players like Subham Sarangi and Nanda Kumar delivering the goods for Odisha FC in the previous edition of the Indian Super League under the guidance under then-coach Josep Gambou, and this year too the Odisha FC management has given importance to the development of young players, who benefit out of brushing shoulders with foreigners in the set-up.
“I think Odisha FC’s philosophy this year of developing the youth of India is amazing! It shows a great view for the future of football not only in Odisha but for Indian football as a whole. I think our young boys show a lot of promise, I just hope I can teach and lead as well as some of my mentors I played alongside when I was their age because the knowledge that an older and more experienced player can pass on to youngsters is invaluable and something I myself treasured,” added the former Sydney FC player.
Even though Odisha FC have already conceded seven goals in the 2020-21 Indian Super League, Jacob Tratt has emerged as one of the stalwarts at the centre back position. Much to the amazement of everyone, the Aussie even provided an assist in the match against Jamshedpur FC. To be very honest, his work is cut out for the rest of the season with star-studded forward lines in the tournament, but Tratt feels every game is a challenge for him.
“I think all teams have their strengths and weaknesses and I think after the 1st half of the season it will be clear to see who has the greatest attack but at the moment anyone can be dangerous at any time making it challenging in every game but something that I look forward to,” said Tratt.
The excitement has already been crippled this season, with the matches being played behind closed doors, with no fan support to drive the players in crunch situations. But it has given new ways to connect with the fans, not least social media platforms. A lot of online activities have enhanced the bond between the players and the fans, which has been a motivating factor for the ISL stars.
“There is no better feeling than playing in front of our fans, seeing their happy faces and feeling their support so for me, yes it is greatly missed. however in saying that the support that has been given from our loyal fans online, across all social media platforms is unbelievable and is very much appreciated. The fans are who we play for so Thank you for standing by us in our unlucky start to the season, and I promise we will keep fighting for you each and every game to make you proud to be an Odisha FC fan,” concluded Tratt