SBD/May 16, 2014/People and Pop Culture

Weekend Plans With TWC Deportes' Martin Zùñiga: MLS Games, Italian Restaurants

Zuniga (r) has been a broadcaster since his retirement from pro soccer in '05
The sport of soccer has touched every aspect of MARTIN ZÚÑIGA’s life. He was a pro goalie for 14 years on Mexico's national team before taking on a role as a play-by-play announcer. He spent time calling games for MLS and Fox Deportes before landing his current role as an analyst for Time Warner Cable Deportes. Originally from Tampico, Tamaulipas, Mexico, Zùñiga lives in El Segundo, Calif., with his two kids -- ages 11 and 4 -- who both play soccer for clubs within the Galaxy organization. While Zùñiga spends most weekends working games for TWC Deportes, he always makes time to get out to his kids’ soccer matches or at least kick the ball around with them in the backyard.

OFFICE SPACE: A typical workday for me is coming into the office a couple of hours before there’s either a live studio program taking place, or a production meeting in relation to the broadcast of whatever MLS game I’m going to be a part of that weekend. I meet with producers, talk to them about that day’s production, talk about what my role is going to be and what the focus of that weekend’s programming is going to be. Deportes also has some broadcasts of Italian soccer games -- retransmissions I guess I should say -- of Italian soccer matches, so I have to come in and make sure that I’m prepared to do the recordings for all of that. Basically, all of the production that I have to be a part of is kind of a daily thing.

DINNER & A MOVIE: I’m a big-time Italian food fan, so I love going out to Italian restaurants when I have a Friday night available. My favorite place in El Segundo is called Il Fornaio. It’s actually right around the corner. That’s my spot. I’m also a big movie fan, so I like to catch movies and of course whenever I can take the kids to the movies because they really enjoy that, too. Going to the movies for me is like a de-stresser, it’s a release. So I love all movies, but if we were going to put them in order, I like action and adventure movies, and I would put the drama movies at the end because I feel real life already is full with enough drama.

GET DOWN TO BUSINESS: There’s a Dynamo-Galaxy game on Saturday, so I’m getting ready for the pregame, postgame, everything that’s related to the production. I call every game that Deportes has. My routine for a gameday is in many ways a mix of me as a professional now as a broadcaster, and then also how I used to prepare when I myself used to play professionally. The first thing I do in the morning is check e-mails for anything that may have broken in relation to the teams overnight. Then I like to get a workout in on the day of the job, because I like to be relaxed and focused and with a clear mind in terms of that day’s game. Then I come back to the e-mails, check to see if there’s anything that came up during my time working out, then I head over to the studio in the afternoon and meet with producers, check in with them to see if there were any changes in terms of the production.

BURNING THE MIDNIGHT OIL: Most of the time, because the weekend games that Deportes tends to have are in the later part of the day, I don’t often have a chance to go out to dinner with my family after the game. But I do so with the production team because we all are done at late hours because there’s always a postgame show after the actual broadcast. So I take those opportunities to talk with the team and talk about that day’s broadcast and what worked and what they want to change for the next time we work together. If it’s an early game and if I’m off earlier, I will take that time with family.

SKILLS COMPETITION: This Sunday, I am excited to be part of a program that the MLS has which is called Sueño MLS. It’s a yearly community outreach initiative whereby kids ages 14-18 from all over the country compete for an opportunity to be the chosen youth player with the opportunity to try out for one of the different teams within Major League Soccer. It started Wednesday but the biggest day in terms of what I’m going to be doing is on Sunday. For this program, my role on Sunday will be to be one of the judges that will choose the young man that stands out as the best goalie of all of the kids that came to try out for this program. I feel very lucky and am happy that Major League Soccer reached out to me for an initiative like this, because I really feel like I’m giving back to the community and it’s giving kids in the local community an opportunity that they maybe wouldn’t have had otherwise. It makes me remember my days when I was a young man trying to get a shot myself.

PLAYING CATCH UP: How I wind down on Sundays is really catching up with the latest news with all the activity happening in the Mexican soccer league. It’s the league that I played professionally in, it’s the soccer that is culturally relevant to me and the soccer that I feel the most passionate about. But because I work on the weekends, I don’t ever have time to watch as much live soccer as I’d like. So I really enjoy using Sunday nights to catch up on all of the latest news on who won, who lost, trades, all that kind of stuff. I’m more of a night owl, so after catching up on the soccer, I will either read or watch a television series like Jack Bauer in “24.” I love that series, and I like to watch that on late nights after everybody has gone to bed.
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