Ooh to be a Gooner: What it’s really like to revolve your life around football

Akhil Vyas explains his job commitments to Arsenal, his social media activities surrounding the club and even having his wedding at the Emirates.

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Some football fans eat, sleep and breathe their club – for them, the sport becomes a part of their everyday lives and for Arsenal fan Akhil Vyas it’s no exception. He incorporates the club into his work, his social life and even his relationship.

Vyas started going to matches when he was just four years old. As well as growing up within a family of Arsenal fans, his love for Ian Wright was a central factor to his supporting of the Gunners.

“He [Ian Wright] just had a real personality so because of that, Arsenal appealed to me” he says.

Since then, his love for the club has continued to grow and by the time he was a teenager, he was travelling to every game, both home and away, to be at the heart of the action.

We’re by far the greatest team, the world has ever seen…

But going to every game, whether that be across the UK or Europe, isn’t the only aspect that makes Vyas’ support so dedicated. Along with his day job, Vyas also has work commitments to the club including his role as a board member for the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust (AST) and running the Arsenal fans podcast The Gooner Ramble.

Through his dedication to the club, he has been able to help other fans like himself, by tackling issues such as ticket pricing, ticket exchange and away tickets during his time at AST. And according to Vyas, clubs often work together to get the best deal for football fans.

He stresses that the purpose of the AST, and any Supporters’ Trust, is “to give a fairer deal to fans, to help fans and to represent fans.”

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Through working with the Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF), the trust has been successful in creating a £30 price cap for away tickets. Vyas admits that campaigning and lobbying with fans as well as the trust’s connections with the Premier League and the media have played a big role in achievements like this – proving just how important the AST is.

In terms of Vyas’ contribution, his role revolves around pretty much everything. From hosting events, attending meetings to even acting as a spokesperson on radio and TV, Vyas covers all areas, which doesn’t come as a surprise for one of Arsenal’s most dedicated supporters.

As well as being a key board member for the AST, Vyas also dedicates his spare time to the Gooner Ramble podcast, after being asked to take over the project last summer. Since starring as a guest on the show, he then became a regular contributor and now manages the podcast himself.

“Anything I do, I like to give 100%, otherwise I just don’t see the point in doing something” he admits. With this work ethic in mind, he has been able to develop new ideas for the project, arrange guest speakers and promote the discussions on the podcast – all contributing to its growing success.

We all follow the Arsenal…

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If working for the club and its beloved fans wasn’t enough, Vyas also has a big social involvement with Arsenal. Not only does he meet and travel with other fans to home and away games, as many supporters do, he has also gained a significant following on social media.

“Like most people, I gave social a bit of a go” he says. “Talking about Arsenal was my niche subject”. Thanks to his activeness on his accounts and his willingness to share his match day experiences with others, Arsenal supporters often turn to him for news surrounding the Gunners.

“I know the people that want to interact with me are all pretty much football or Arsenal fans” he states. “Even though I’m really interested in politics, I tend to not really give my opinion on stuff like that. I know that’s not really my kind of audience.”

However, Vyas urges that the number of followers he has, isn’t the reason why he posts so much online. “It’s more for enjoyment. I enjoy interacting with people and engaging with people.” As fans clearly enjoy interacting with him, it’s a win-win.

She Wore a Yellow Ribbon…

Even though Vyas’ work and social commitments to the club are undoubtedly impressive, he admits that the most shocking thing he has ever done as an Arsenal supporter is host his own wedding at the Emirates.

In 2015, when he was looking at venues it was actually his dad who suggested having the wedding at Arsenal. Although Vyas had already considered this as a worthy option, with the backing of his parents, it didn’t take long to convince his then fiancé.

“She was quite keen” he recalls. “She wanted it to be different and her friends and family were quite impressed as well.”

With the support of his partner, Vyas has been able to demonstrate his passion for Arsenal on even the most important day of his life, his wedding. “She understands the importance of football to me and respects that [so] it works” he assures.

And as for the wedding itself, they were not disappointed. “It was unreal” Vyas says, “being centre of attention, along with my wife obviously, in the place you love is amazing.”

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But how does Vyas manage to juggle his work, his relationship, his social life and his dedication for Arsenal, whilst still incorporating the club into everything he does? “It’s tough at times” he admits, but one of the main ways is to keep a fair balance between football and other life commitments.

And it’s no secret that his love for Arsenal plays a big part too. “It’s the passion of talking Arsenal that gets me through it” Vyas says, referring to his work for the Gooner Ramble.

Working for the club can also give you that extra bit of engagement which any hardcore fan would be happy to have: “it gives you that enjoyment and a bit of access” he says. “You just feel a bit more involved which is a nice feeling.”

It can be hard finding the determination to take on so many extra roles on top of your daily life, but if it’s something you really love and something as special as football, you’ll always find the time.

Follow Chelsea on Twitter @chelseajadeft9

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