Spotlight ON: Montenegro | IMG ARENA

ODCN Spotlight ON - Montenegro - football

This month we dig deep into one of the best performing countries in our network. A beautiful Montenegro. Where the average surface area above sea level is as high as their performance. We had the opportunity to speak with the Regional Coordinator for Montenegro shortly after the recent trip of our Data Collection Manager – Jakub Breś. Here you will find an interesting interview with Marko Dragovic and for dessert we have a field report from Jakub with photos that add a new dimension to the story!

Spotlight ON: Marko Dragovic

Meet Marko Dragovic, Regional Coordinator at IMG Arena in Montenegro, who joined the team in the summer of 2022 and quickly became essential in the efforts to improve communications and manage the complex planning of sporting events. With a robust business background and a direct role in data collection, Marko helps the Data Collection Manager keep the DC network strong and sharp.

Can you share your journey to becoming a Regional Coordinator at IMG Arena? What sparked your interest in this field?

I joined the IMG Arena team in the summer of 2022 and started doing regular DC work covering Montenegrin Football League matches. In the beginning there were only a few of us at all the matches and it was quite intense and interesting to be on a football or basketball field every day. As a big fan of sports (especially football) and because of my business background, I had a lot of communication with the IMG Arena team to support the project. They quickly realized that I could be the solution for an effective communication bridge between the central and local team.

As someone still involved in data collection, how do you balance your dual responsibilities?

It is interesting and crucial for me to collect data, because you have to keep track of this with adjustments in the app to help and support local colleagues.

What strategies do you use to ensure high-quality data collection during live events, especially under pressure?

Very simple and I propose this to the local team: be 100% focused during the game, turn off your private phone (incoming calls, messages and Internet), find a place in the location that suits you and open “four eyes” . Also, take a notebook and a pencil and write down any tricky situations so you can update them later. Collecting data is a job like any other job and if you are not 100% focused, the results will not be of high quality even once.

How do you maintain effective communication with your data collectors and central management?

As I said, I have a long business history and have worked in two large trading companies in management positions, so I am aware of the importance of effective communication. So communication about IMG Arena became a regular part of my working day – while I check messages, emails and newsletters about my regular work, I also do the same about the IMG Arena project. Plus, I’m an organization freak, so I can’t finish my workday without handling all the written communications (answering or passing on the necessary information).

What is something about you that your colleagues might be surprised to hear?

Most of my local colleagues already know, but in general I have four different jobs (including IMG Arena) – in addition to IMG Arena and my own company, I am also included in the project of the football club where my young son plays (as PR, cameraman, support of social media actions and much more) and also my hobby/work – beekeeping 🙂

From your experience, what makes Montenegro’s sports culture unique compared to other regions?

Difficult question, but – the answer can be used for all countries in the Balkans – the past decades were not so easy in this area and sport was a lighthouse for many people, where we tried to make our lives through the success of our sports teams or athletes color and forget the difficulties. That’s one reason why people react when you say something bad about Novak Djokovic, for example; we are ready to fight against anyone, filling our own blood.

We are also always optimistic about our sports teams and athletes; Even if all the odds are against us, we are sure to win – alone against the world, something that is built into the character of our people and can be explained with just one word in our language (which, as I know, has no translation into English) – INAT!

What role does feedback play in improving your team’s performance, and how do you implement it?

From the beginning I tried to be open to anyone who needs help regarding the IMG Arena project (not just data collection), so first of all I think all of us in Montenegro need open and honest communication where everyone can help and support others.

As for feedback from my side: if I get information about an error or someone asks me something, the best way to communicate is a phone call – where we can talk about errors, discuss (don’t force it and talk in a way that YOU SHOULD) about situations and come to the conclusion together how you can improve Data Collector and prepare it for future similar situations.

So feedback is crucial – as I said before, IMG Arena is a serious job like any other and it’s not enough that you just love sports. In fact, I like to say that we do sports (so our previous understanding of sports and sports rules is not sufficient), but we are engaged in data collection – watching matches and converting situations on the archive via the app and PER AGREED RULES to the end customer).

If you could have dinner with any athlete, past or present, who would it be and why?

There are many, but let’s say Novak Djokovic and Michael Jordan – sports legends who achieved so much, both on and off the court, and touched so many lives not only through sport. It would be great to hear from them about how they pushed themselves far beyond their limits and achieved greatness. Any advice from them about life and motivation would be great and helpful for everyone.

Can you share any funny, favorite or memorable moments from your time as a regional coordinator and data collector?

Closing the first football season 2022/23…Kinga wanted to honor me and assigned me for a last match of the season – the Montenegro Cup final in our largest stadium; I can say I was happy because I didn’t get the chance to work too much on that stadium.

The match started at 9pm local time, beautiful evening, no rain, not so high temperature. Everything happens like in a dream…

But at the end of the first half the storm started with heavy rain and the match was interrupted for about 45 minutes during the half… At the beginning of the second half – the electricity was turned off and the lights were off – another 20 minutes interruption!

Away team leads 1:0 and plays well, but somehow (to this day I don’t know how) the home team equalizes to 1:1 aaaaaand – we go to extra time (only match in our cup that extra time is final, all others we go to a penalty shootout after 90 minutes).

Of course – no goals after extra time; it is also midnight and SV asked me on Telegram “Marko, do you know that this is the only match in Europe that is still playing at the moment; even Portugal and Iceland are ready)”.

Finally, the match ended sometime around 12:45 AM. Anyway, it’s not the end yet – because of the heavy traffic I left the parking lot for over an hour and got home after midnight.

So a funny evening, with a lot of F-words on my part 🙂

Special field report: Jakub Breś

On a recent trip to Montenegro, which was mainly for personal reasons, I decided to take the opportunity to explore the local football scene. As Data Collection Manager at IMG Arena, I always want to see with my own eyes how our activities are unfolding in different regions. My destination was a match between Budućnost and Sutjeska in the largest stadium in Montenegro, Stadion Pod Goricom.

Jakub ODCN MontenegroOn the day of the competition I had an appointment with Marko, our regional coordinator in Montenegro. Marko picked me up from Sutomore and we had an hour’s drive ahead of us to the capital Podgorica. All possible barriers between us immediately disappeared. Marko’s friendly attitude and my command of the Balkan languages, having previously lived in Montenegro, made for a seamless connection. The scenic journey, which wound through the mountains and along Lake Skadar, was filled with fascinating conversations about football, life and our view of the world. Time flew by and before I knew it we had arrived at our destination.

The atmosphere around the stadium was electric, with fans and the lively pre-match atmosphere setting the tone. Marko’s children and friends who accompanied us added to the warmth of the experience. The match itself was exciting and ended in a 2-2 draw, but the camaraderie and shared excitement made it truly unforgettable.

Throughout the match, Marko shared fascinating insights and anecdotes about Montenegrin football. A particularly interesting story involved Vasilije Adzić, a player who has captured the country’s attention and is on the verge of making a game-changing move to Juventus. This transfer would make him the first Montenegrin to join such a top team.

Even though this trip was personal, I couldn’t resist seeing our Data Collectors in action. During the competition I met Vuka, one of our diligent data collectors. His surprise and delight at my ability to speak Montenegrin was a priceless moment. It was also great to meet another Data Collector, Ivan, after the match. Our brief conversation outside the stadium highlighted the dedication and passion our team brings to their work.

Faced with the choice between going back to my hotel or enjoying a perfectly chilled beer with my Montenegrin friends, I chose the latter. The hospitality of Ivan and his family was boundless, and I was especially touched by his daughter’s efforts to learn Polish words.

I would like to thank my Montenegrin brothers for making this day unforgettable. I had a great time and look forward to visiting again.

This experience reinforced my admiration for the work our data collectors do and the vibrant football culture in Montenegro. It is these personal connections and shared experiences that enrich our understanding and appreciation of the global sporting community.

Thank you, Montenegro, for an incredible day full of football, friendship and unforgettable memories!

Interested in becoming a data collector like Marko Dragovic started? click here to read more about our ODCN team, or view our current vacancies.

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