The first time I got to know Andre Sooklal was back in 2016 via a mutual interest of ours, Argentina football team. It was a passion that we both cherished so much despite countless heartbreaking moments.
Back then I was regularly writing for an Argentine football website called Mundo Albiceleste and Andre was closely following the updates and regularly commenting on our post. He approached me with an idea of collaborating on some projects for the Copa America Centenario. It was then I found out that Andre was hosting his own football show Extra Time TV. We hit it off right from that moment.
Despite living almost 10,000 miles apart (I’m based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia while Andre is from San Fernando, Trinidad & Tobago), the distance was never an issue for us. We’ve been in constant contact with each other via various social media and messaging platforms. Technology has played a crucial role in our lives.
This year I embarked on a new project called The BOLA BOLA Show, a podcast talking all about football. Andre was one of the first people I had in mind to be a guest. And it wasn’t that long when he had a special show on his other passion, Internazionale; the stage was set for Andre Sooklal to make his Malaysian podcast debut.
As 2020 has been an extremely challenging year for everyone, a little bit of good news is all we need to bring some light to our lives. I was absolutely overwhelmed beaming when he informed me that the Trinbago Knight Riders cricket team of the Caribbean Premier T20 League had hired him to be part of their media team.
So we decided to sit down and talk to the man himself on his journey from football and cricket.
- Tell us about ExtraTime TV (EXTV) background, when did you get it started?
Well EXTRA TIME TV when it was suggested to me by others that I should create my own project. I was sceptical at first because I truthfully never thought I would get into media as I mostly focused largely on the coaching and analytical side of football and sport, however, after being encouraged by many respected people in the industry particularly former Trinidad & Tobago men’s football team player Anthony Rougier and ESPNFC’s Shaka Hislop I was encouraged to pursue this task. Truthfully I wondered how on earth would I be able to put together such an undertaking since up until that point I was an analyst and had no experience in editing. However, after working with others I learned to do everything on my own and with the help of various people got the project up and running and now you see where it is today! I always believed that I could have highlighted and added my own take on the sport that was unique to not just Trinidad & Tobago regionally and that is the core of what Extra Time TV stands for.
- What were the main challenges you faced in trying to get EXTV take off?
I am very analytical by nature and even though I appear as risky to some, everything I do is calculated. When I left the first TV station to go on my own I had no editor, no camera man, no marketing team, just my reputation in sport and my desire. Starting a project like this from literally nothing as stated before was quite daunting and that together with my unconventional style of doing things made this task quite a difficult one. I literally had to use all my IT, marketing skills, sport experience to eventually do the entire process myself and it turned out to be quite a blessing because it made me quite versatile and able to take on the projects I can today. However I can say this one of the most interesting challenges I faced was when we started to get wider acknowledgement a well-known media organization attempted to steal our work and it was quite a sharp reminder of the darker sides of the industry.
- What were your memorable moments with EXTV?
So many to count! I have been very blessed to have worked with people I never imagined I would have worked with not just in football but in sports and entertainment as well. Working and becoming close with Shaka Hislop is definitely one of them! Being able to travel and see my favourite national team Argentina from a unique perspective was also quite amazing and even meeting world class bands like Collective Soul…..it is quite a lot and I am quite grateful! But I will definitely have to say meeting and interacting with Pablo Aimar was definitely one of my favourite moments!
- Now let’s talk about the Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR), how did you manage to secure this gig?
Even though EXTV is mainly known for football we also focus on the other sport that is popular in my country Trinidad and Tobago which is cricket. Lots of popular CPL and IPL players are fans of the show and the segments we did so the interaction was quite organic. I did some work with the players and met with the person responsible for TKR media and they seemed to be happy with how we do things and they gave us the chance to work with such a wonderful franchise!
- What is your role within TKR?
So basically EXTV was hired to be responsible for all the social media, interviews, documentaries and anchoring to put it quite short, but there is way more to it than that!
- It must be overwhelming to know that your hard work is recognized by an established professional team?
I am always humbled when things like this happen and it really is quite a great feeling to know where EXTV originated from to where it is now. To have our work acknowledged and be trusted by such an amazing organization is exactly as you asked quite overwhelming at times. I have always been confident and focused about what EXTV stands for and to continue to get sincere respect from teams like this really fills me with a sense of pride for all the years of work I put in. It was not an overnight success by any means and it just encourages me to keep being better.
- As you’ve always been a football guy, what are the challenges you think you could face in adjusting from football to cricket?
Well in my country you are exposed to both football and cricket, well at least my generation it seems. I don’t think it’s like that anymore, however even though football is what I am known for I have always been involved in cricket since a young age and infuriated my cricket coaches and even my brother because they tried to get me to play more but my eyes were always on football. With that being said I have always followed cricket and that adjustment isn’t that hard for me. Having worked with a few professional teams there are some norms that are standard no matter what sport you play and cricket is no different. Games are much longer but I can handle it!
- So does this also mean you’re completely off from EXTV?
Absolutely not like all my other projects EXTV is very much a part of this. EXTV is now a media production company and the work continues. This work complements the existing work EXTV does and only serves to take us to another level.
- How proud are you of the work you’ve accomplished with EXTV?
I always try to remain as grounded as possible because this is quite a difficult industry but sometimes when I look back at where I started to now I feel very proud of what I accomplished and those who helped me accomplish this knowingly or unknowingly. We live in very difficult times and after many ups and downs, I have to say to have when your hard honest work is acknowledged it’s always an amazing feeling.
- Now we know that you support Inter Milan and Argentina, wha are thoughts on the possibility of Lionel Messi leaving Barcelona for Inter?
Truthfully I always sign Leo Messi when I play my career mode in FIFA but even though it seems that things are very bad at Barcelona right now and Messi looks like he is set to leave I believe he loves Barcelona way too much to leave. I know he is criticised for being a one-club man but for me, that is his most admirable trait. Even though I know its highly unlikely the thought of seeing Leo Messi in Inter Milan colours does make my heart race, however, I would be very surprised if it happens.
- So now what does the future holds EXTV?
EXTV has been in a constant state of natural evolution from the very first video we did. I think our growth and our method of approach has shocked many but the plans I had for EXTV have always been there and I continue to aim for the company to grow. We have several objectives and many big projects coming up as well which I can’t disclose the information as yet. This opportunity with TKR just cements as I stated before the hard work and belief that I have always had in this project and there is a lot more to come!
- Well, what are your goals now with TKR?
EXTV’s aim was always to become a diverse hub for telling football stories in a unique way and highlighting not just news but teams, people etc that are normally overlooked. We have very specific objectives that have now grown into other expansive projects. I can’t reveal too much but with each milestone more amazing doors open for us. EXTV’s journey continues and has gone from being a podcast type to a proper network with unique content from a Caribbean perspective and we will continue to move forward as planned!
On a personal level, I have seen just how hardworking Andre is when it comes to his job with EXTV. His passion and dedication is second to none and I can be the first to tell you that.
I recall one time that I had just recorded a video and sent it over to him at about 10am my time, which is about 10pm in Trini. On the same day around 9pm my time, I received a Whatsapp message from him that the Youtube video of the recording was uploaded on EXTV.
Which means, he had practically stayed up the whole night working on editing and publishing the video. His relentless drive and energy makes you wonder if he is a real life vampire! And that itself had a knock on effect on his team which is the reason the synergy behind EXTV is simply amazing.
The kind of work ethics and values which he possesses has been an inspiration for me when I first started the BOLA BOLA Show. Andre’s ability to converse flawlessly with renowned football pundits such as Shaka Hislop of ESPN has always been my benchmark. Also not forgetting the creativity and unique ideas that he puts into this video are also the work of art.
I truly believe that this is the reason why the people behind TKR saw something special in him and EXTV. And I may be allowed to say something to them, it will be that they got the right team for the job. Of course, I will continue to engage with him and keep a close eye on him as he begins a new chapter in his life.
With that said, on behalf of everyone, we wish Andre and EXTV all the best with TKR!