Tuesday, September 28, 2010

For an Arena Legend

One of my favourite books is Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami. There's a line in the book which comes from the main character, Toru Watanabe who said;

Death is not the opposite of life; it exists as a part of them.


My first encounter with him lasted for one hour and 30 minutes. He claimed that it was one of the longest interview sessions he's ever had.

"You're really doing a good job in making me talk non-stop. And you keep asking me questions. Some of which I don't have an answer to."

Never would I have imagined that one day, the man I talked to that day will have a major impact in my career and in my life. The man that will give me a chance to prove myself.

I remember the jokes that we traded after we learn about each other's favourite club. Matt was a Newcastle supporter and he was always taking potshots at me for supporting Spurs.

"Just when I thought you were a smart man. Now I've changed my mind."

But the most important thing that he did for me was the faith and the trust that he had in me. He was the one who opened the doors and gave me the opportunity to prove my abilities.

Once he called me to his office just for a chat. I was given a task and responsibility on a certain project that I'm not quite sure I'm ready for yet at the time.

"You're doing just fine. I am not asking you to paint a Monalisa. Make mistakes. Learn from it. After all, it's just TV. But remember, don't screw up."

That last line was just his way of messing with me, which I admit scare the shit out of me sometime.

But I do know what he meant.

He wants me to learn.

If I had not met him, I would never have thought that I have the chance to do some of the things I do or have done while with ARENA.

If I had not met him, I would never have thought that I'll be meeting some of the people that I have met while with ARENA.

If I had not met him, I would never have thought that I'll be working with some of the best and friendly people I have ever met while with ARENA.

To put it in a nutshell, without him, I'll still be out there...lost and searching for something to inspire myself.

I was asked to write something about him for the company's internal note, which will also be read by his best friend and my Executive Producer, Darren Althofer at his service in Australia.

Monday, 27th September 2010 was indeed a dark and gloomy day as it witnessed the passing of Matt McKeown, General Manager and the main driving force behind Astro Arena. Since its formative days, Astro Arena has been a passion and commitment for Matt as he intends to give Malaysians its best in presenting and celebrating sports in a more broad and mass platform.

With more than 20 years of experience in broadcasting and sports, Matt has brought his expertise in building Astro Arena from the ground up. Since he first joined Astro Arena back in September 2009, he has been the pillar in maintaining a structure for the team to ensure Arena is a force to be reckon with. His experience with various media organizations has brought an informative and fresh views for the team to continue in giving the best in its presentation.

Matt have always encouraged the team to believe in themselves, as he believes in the abilities of each and everyone of us. He was a motivator in a sense which bring the best out from everyone who has worked with him. His ability to be open for ideas, as well as firm decision making, provide a stable and consistent environment for the team to work in.

On a more personal note, Matt have always nurtured a sense of family in Astro Arena. A family man himself, with a beautiful wife and his two adorable sons, he have been a strong instigator in implementing family values in Arena. He laughed, he cried and he stands with the whole team every step of the way. His humour, friendly-nature and his sense of camaraderie have made Astro Arena the place to be and a more tight-knit group.

Matt McKeown was a great man and a great friend. His loss will deeply be missed by his whole family and his entire second family, the Arena family. To those who had just got to know him, he left nothing but wonderful memories of his presence. He will always be remembered and cherished as a pioneer, a leader, and a friend.

Matt McKeown, May Your Soul Be Blessed and May You Rest in Peace.

I never had the chance to thank him personally for everything that he has done for me. I owe it to him to keep moving and persevering against each challenge and each tide that I will face in my life. I owe it to him to be bold and be brave, and also show what I've learned and what I am able to do.

A lot of people say they took a gamble by coming with Matt to Arena. For me, Matt took a gamble when he hired me.

Matt McKeown, my friend, my brother. Thank You Buddy. I will never forget you. Thank you for everything.

For once, this office seems smaller than it used to be.