Updated: Aug 16
My Sports Journalism Journey in the
2nd year at the University of South Wales
Over the second year of my Sports Journalism course, we were encouraged to look out for potential work placements that could benefit us in the future regarding employment once we had qualified from the course. It was also a chance for us to gain real-time experience in the industry or with a sports team to see what we would need to improve by the time came around to graduation.
All of these experiences would not only benefit us but also the employer where we were looking to do our placements as they would have someone keen and eager to impress and potentially bring new ideas to the table.
I managed to make a head start with this as I was asked if I would like to volunteer with Street Football Wales in preparation for their upcoming Four Nations Challenge Cup which was being held in Edinburgh on the 18th and 19th of September.
This would lead to more opportunities to work with the charity over the university year.
After the Christmas holidays, we were asked if we had found any other placements or if we had anywhere that we would be interested in going. After a discussion with my lecturer, I was asked to be involved in Media Communications with St Davids Hospice Charity covering the City of Newport Half Marathon.
Whilst discussing the placement with St Davids Hospice, I was also made aware that there could be an opportunity to work with the media team at Bristol Rovers Football Club. After a few emails between myself and the head of media, who had agreed to take me on as a placement student, I had my first game confirmed to cover.
All placement hours are set out in the table below
Descriptions of all work carried out is explained below with a corresponding number to the table above.
1 - 6 . Street Football Wales
16th August - 13th September
This was my first experience working with the charity, not really knowing anything about them apart from when the homeless world cup was held in Cardiff back in 2019. Our main objective from these training sessions was to record footage that could be used in a documentary to promote the charity. As it was our first day working with them, it was more of a trial session to see how we would want to document everything and if that fit in with what Street Football Wales wanted.
One aspect we would need to take into consideration would be the fact that the people involved in the filming process might not be willing to talk about how they got into this situation, and why they were receiving help from the Street Football Wales volunteers. It was clear from that first training session that we were recording that some felt uncomfortable with the camera being used to record them playing games and going through drills.
We also had to be mindful that both men and women were taking part in these sessions and their situations could be vastly different or very similar.
“in the digital media era, sportswriters – in addition
to their continued embracing of traditional journalistic
practices and principles – are expected to use new
media technologies and adjust their newsgathering,
dissemination, readership and source interaction activities
accordingly. New media influences, digital interactivity and
participatory elements, and the overall technological impact
have significantly shifted the landscape in newspaper
sports reporting and the surviving print sportswriters have
embraced – or been forced into – their new role as digital
(Billings, 2014, p.9)
During the week we had discussed ways to interact with the players and how to make them feel a little bit more relaxed about us being around filming them. Telling their stories was going to be the main part of this project and gaining the player's trust was paramount. Again we spoke to Scott about how he wanted us to conduct ourselves and he was happy to continue as we were from the first week. This made us feel more comfortable about our working environment which must have come across to players as they interacted with us a lot more, some were still very shy around us, which was totally understandable as we didn’t know what they had been through to get to into this situation.
"The power of labelling and assumption of
perceived characteristics of the label draws
societal and professional reactions that help
constructing an assumed or everyday approach
to the labelled phenomenon that reinforces its
impact (Burke & Parker, 2007 ; Parker, 2007).
Vulnerability is seen to imply an element of
weakness, although it does not provide the
reason for it. Some people apportion blame
for the vulnerability directly to the vulnerable
person. For others, the difficulty may rest with
the likely attribution of "victim status" to someone
referred to as vulnerable. It may be thought that,
because of the possible difficulties that it
comprises, the term should be avoided and
more neutral terms should be used in respect of the
person."(Parker et al., 2012)
We persuaded Lloyd Thomas, to have a chat with us. He was from Merthyr and had only been playing with the team a little while. This was our first opportunity to have a chat with anyone who was playing as everyone else had shied away from us as soon as we mentioned the interview.
Looking back on the interview we noticed that the room we had chosen wasn’t very good acoustically, and most of what was said was either very quiet or not able to be heard at all due to this and outside noise from the other players. All of these factors would have to be taken into consideration next time we interview anyone.
The Homeless World Cup was held in Cardiff back in 2019 and someone who supported it was Michael Sheen. He was very vocal with his support and has been with Street Football Wales since. This was a chance for the BBC to come down and interview some players and for us to get to talk to Michael as well, we couldn’t have predicted how welcoming he was, spent lots of time chatting to all of the players who were taking part in the tournament.
We also asked for other people to send messages of support for the squad to take up with them to Edinburgh, we had some that said they didn’t mind the players seeing the message but didn’t want it going out on the social media video that is below.
6. Street Football Wales –
Media Preparations – 16th -18th September
Over the final few days, we designed generic graphics that could be used for posting on social media to engage fans more and allow us more time to get information out instead of worrying about making them up on the spot. This was something both myself and Dafydd Jones had seen done at Cardiff City, as well as being discussed by the FAW, Swansea City and other guest speakers that had spent time talking to us. Once we had the squad details through, it was just a case of ensuring everyone had a graphic associated with goals or substitutions.
7. Street Football Wales –
Four Nations Challenge Cup – 18th and 19th September
I couldn’t make the trip to Edinburgh for the tournament, but I made sure that any alterations to the graphics could be done and sent to Dafydd as I was working in Cardiff. I also organised an interview with Rob Phillips of BBC Sports Wales, who discussed the tournament on the Saturday sports show, which was great publicity for the team.
“Sport is a source of reliable and plentiful
content due to the frequent scheduling of
events and the regularity of competitions
for an array of national and international
leagues” (Hutchins and Boyle, 2016)
8. St Davids Hospice Charity
Media Preparations – 1st – 4th March 2022
I was nervous going into this placement as it was going to be the first time I would be reporting in real-time, something I had only done before whilst watching football and not for any official media company. After contact with Christine Vorres over the weeks before the half marathon, I took it upon myself to design some templates that would be editable to post on social media channels that would help promote the charity and the event itself. This was done in line with my Photography and Video in Sport module as were in the middle of making motion graphic templates.
After going through different combinations of colours and placing pre-rendered graphics I came up with this design using Canva that could be used on all platforms. Simple, colourful but easy to edit and had all the information needed.
Being ahead of the game for this placement was going to play a key part in making sure everything on the day ran smoothly.
The only other obstacle I came across along with the two other people I was working with on this placement was travelling down as no trains would get us into Newport until 8:30 am which would have been too late.
9. St Davids Hospice Charity
City of Newport Half Marathon – 6th March
On the day of the marathon, we arrived at the University of South Wales campus in Newport as they were using that as a base for both the start and the end of the race. We met up with Christine and other people who were working with the charity on the day just to discuss where they wanted us and what else they needed us to do away from posting across all social media channels. Myself, Jack and Geren, the other people on placement decided to get some pre-race interviews and spoke to Rebecca Breen, USW student recruitment officer who was based in Newport about how the campus was used for the marathon with raising the profile of the university in general.
Once the race had gotten underway, we posted numerous pictures online and needed to find a new place to be able to get decent shots of the runners. We were constantly moving around the course just to make sure we didn’t miss anything, especially those that managed to get across the finish line first. With all the planning that had gone into the delivery of the posts on social media, it would have probably been better to work out where we were going to go as we wasted valuable time asking the race organisers where we should head.
We got to the finish line before the first male runner, Abed Teweldenrhan, crossed the line in 67 minutes, those pictures were on Twitter within seconds in the template I had designed with the time along with the video of Abed breaking the tape at the finish.
Lizzie Dimond was the first female runner to cross the line after 1 hour 21 minutes and I spoke to her and arrange an interview for the following week as this was one race she wanted to finish as she was a Newport lady and it meant so much to her.
As there were three of us working with the charity on the day, it would have been much better if we had assigned jobs to ourselves and followed those because sometimes we found we were all standing around in the same place when there was so much we could have been doing.
The feedback we had from the St Davids Hospice team was very positive and if the chance comes up again I would willing to work with them again.
10. Street Football Wales
Media Preparation – 8th March
This tournament gave us the first chance to use ideas and processes taught in one of our modules regarding motion graphics for sports, mainly focusing on football. Between myself and Dafydd, we decided to have every single team ready for the morning so we could quickly post that information along with having the template prepared if there were any last-minute changes, which we had found there always are with certain players not able to make the matches for reasons out of their control.
We also asked our lecturer for Photography and Video in Sport to go over what we had developed to see if he thought we needed to make any changes which, luckily for us, he didn’t.
11. Street Football Wales
Gôl Tournament, Leckwith Cardiff
I arrived at Gôl just after 9:30 am and set up in the bar area with the other volunteers, and started making the changes to the teams that we knew would come in; luckily for us, there weren’t that many, which meant we focused on the social media side of posting about the tournament. Lewis Sharpe and Louis Holbrook came down to help us get video content, keep track of the scores coming in, and take over when I had to leave the tournament early.
There was a clear plan of how the social media posts would look, and having a plan set out from the start helped the rest of the volunteers and us as they could follow the day and share the posts on Facebook and Instagram and retweet on Twitter.
12. Bristol Rovers Football Club
Vs Colchester United, 15th March
This was my first time working with the media team over in Bristol and it could have gone very differently. I had been in contact with Andy Downie in the days leading up to the game and I had been asked to arrive at 5:30 pm and that I’d be able to park in the car park. On arrival, Andy had asked me to go into the club shop and ask them to call him, he would come and meet me to go over what they would be wanting from me during the evening. As it happened, I was asked by Andy what my videography skills were like as they had just lost theirs due to a family emergency. It wasn’t until they decided it would be unfair to ask me to do that on the first night that I got given the job of writing my first professional football club match report for the official website. I was asked to look at the previous ones that had been done for the club just to get an idea of what they wanted, style, flow and information and taken to my seat in the press box.
This was quite a surreal feeling as I had followed Bristol Rovers with my Dad when I was growing up, I never thought I’d be working with the club. I was also working with Callum Nixon, who had recently graduated from the University of South Wales BA (Hons) Sports Journalism course, it made me feel more relaxed knowing that he had been through what I was experiencing.
Everything about the first day of placement was positive and they mentioned how impressed they were with how I was willing to adapt to anything with the issues arising pre-match.
13. Bristol Rovers Football Club
Vs Salford City, 15th April
My second game working with Bristol Rovers and it was one heavily featured on Sky Sports due to the connections with the Class of ’92.
I was asked to cover the match report again, it gave me chance to work on what I did last time and also gave me more experience in getting a written piece out in a timed environment. Following on from previous placements and seeing other football clubs doing the same, it was important to make sure all the details were correct regarding teams, substitutions, officials and attendance as well as being available on the website as soon as possible after the final whistle. There was a little bit more pressure with the fact that Rovers were now starting to look like they would be pushing for promotion after some very good results had got them into the playoff places, more people would be scrutinising all of the club's output including what I was writing for the match report.
Andy and Callum were happy again with what I produced and there wasn’t any editing that needed to be done this time around.
14. Bristol Rovers Football Club
Vs Forest Green Rovers, 23rd April
The battle of the Rovers was always going to be a game to remember for many different reasons and this was very true for me as well. The game had been advertised as a double header with Bristol Rovers vs Forest Green Rovers kicking off the EFL League 2 game at 3 pm to be followed by the Gas Girls vs Forest Green Rovers Women, something that had never been done before at the Memorial Stadium.
It was agreed prior to the men's game kicking off that I would work on the match report and then for the women's game, I would take over the videography pre-match and then be in control of the Twitter updates on the club's official profile.
As a fan commentating on games, you get caught up in posting as many details as possible, one point was made by Callum when I was trying to keep up with the game. Keeping it to big moments and not constant unless the game really needed it, and always finishing the tweet with a full stop, was something I had never thought about when writing updates.
Being in full creative control of the pre-match videos was also nice because it showed that the media team trusted me with making the content to be put out on social media.
15. Bristol Rovers Football Club
Vs Scunthorpe United, 7th May
A match that will go down in history for the Bristol Rovers fans and first-hand experience of seeing a team win promotion whilst working pitchside. I had previously worked with Cardiff City, my hometown club, from 2014 until 2021 as the music curator for home games. This was totally different, being down with the fans, behind the goal where 5 goals were scored in the second half, being ran at during the pitch invasion after the seventh goal and having people run in my direction again at the final whistle, something I had never experienced before.
We had a massive team for this game, people had been pulled in from everywhere just in case the unthinkable happened. I was one of four on videography duty and my main job in the second half was to film the Thatchers stand, where the most vocal Bristol Rovers fans stand. I was also asked to get some pre-match content and to concentrate on getting footage of Oscar walking out with the team as he was suffering from cerebral palsy, they wanted this to be put straight out on social media so as soon as I recorded the video, I sent it via WhatsApp to Andy who then uploaded.
Over the four matches, I couldn’t have asked for a better team of people to work with and they have asked me to return next year.
16. Street Football Wales
Media Preparation, 11th – 12th May
After discussing the tournament set-up with Scott Jeynes, we decided that having a team Canva project would be beneficial as the brand could be kept the same. Still, we would be able to make any adjustments to the players of teams easily and quickly via the Canva app on our phones.
Playing at the home of Merthyr Town was something the charity had done before, but there was going to be more of a social media presence this time around, with both myself and Dafydd attending the entire day.
For the game day graphics, we were in discussions with Sam Ord over how our output would look and what would be put out on social media channels would have to stick to those specifications as we try to develop the brand of Street Football Wales by following a pattern within being creative with content.
Scott had also asked me to prepare a playlist for the day so that we could set it up through the PA system to announce the teams and make it more full production for the players.
17. Street Football Wales
Penydarren Cup, Merthyr Tydfil, 13th May
This was a slightly different tournament to the ones we had run the social media on before. Scott and his team had invited Jumpers for Goalpost to take part who are based in Ceredigion. This group has the same values as Street Football Wales, inclusion for all.
We had set up for the day using the press box at Penydarren Park and started taking videos and pictures to post on social media. I had an idea for all the players to walk past me from the tunnel; the end product was a great video showing every single player taking part walking out onto the pitch, with some even waving at the camera as they came out.
With all the necessary graphics being finished the day before, it left Dafydd and me to concentrate on recording the games and getting interviews with some players. All the preparations that we hadn’t done for the first couple of sessions working for the charity made a massive difference to the content we were able to put out, with Scott and the other volunteers also saying we had managed to develop a sound working system to promote them and our work.
We aimed to treat this as if it was a professional football club, making every detail count and using skills we learned during the second half of the year with Andy Pearsall.
Billings, A. (2014). Routledge Handbook of Sport and New Media. Routledge, p.9.
Goggin, G. (2020). Digital Journalism after Mobility. Digital Journalism, 8(1), pp.170–173. doi:10.1080/21670811.2019.1711434.
Hutchins, B. and Boyle, R. (2016). A Community of Practice. Digital Journalism, 5(5), pp.496–512. doi:10.1080/21670811.2016.1234147.
Lewis, S.C. and Westlund, O. (2014). Actors, Actants, Audiences, and Activities in Cross-Media News Work. Digital Journalism, 3(1), pp.19–37. doi:10.1080/21670811.2014.927986.
Parker, J., Crabtree, S.A., Chui, W.H., Kumagai, T. and Baba, I. (2012). WAVE: Working with Adults Who Are Vulnerable - a - ProQuest. [online] www.proquest.com. Available at: https://www.proquest.com/docview/1145499920?accountid=15324&parentSessionId=cEEmYqU%2BurT46Z9cSLA1jGfcZ7xU%2BN46QQu8ardQNxQ%3D&pq-origsite=primo [Accessed 7 Jun. 2022].