My day with Justin Allen
Kayla Buffonge, who runs the website SportsYoungTalent.com, is a mentee from of our Mentoring and Leadership Project. The initiative, which launched in July 2010, looks to present individuals eager to break into the football industry with the opportunity to gain advice and insight from leading figureheads working across all sectors of the game.
Justin Allen, football writer at the Sun, is one of our mentors from the Project. He arranged for Kayla to shadow him on 7 August as they travelled to Wembley for an interview with Tony Adams before heading to the Emirates Stadium to attend Arsenal’s pre-Community Shield press conference.
“It is so great to see enthusiastic Kick It Out mentees such as Kayla,” said Justin. “When we met Tony Adams, it was just going to be a general chat about Arsenal – but it developed into our main splash for that weekend’s paper as he had some strong but constructive comments about what was going wrong in Jack Wilshere’s career.
“Kayla saw at first-hand how an interview can suddenly develop into a major story. And then she got to experience an Arsenal media day where we interviewed Arsene Wenger, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Kieran Gibbs. This gave great insight into how we work and how clubs also organise themselves in terms of their media commitments.”
Here, Kayla provides a diary of her day shadowing Justin:
08:30– My day began as I left home to head to Wembley Stadium to meet Justin. As I made my way there, I decided to check the latest news on Arsenal and prepare some questions, just in case there was a chance for me to ask one. I tailored the questions to suit my youth sports website. The questions I wrote down I hoped I could put forward to Kieran Gibbs and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain.
09:45- I arrived at Wembley Park station. The journey took about an hour. I was both nervous and excited at the same time. I was excited as I was finally going to a press conference and shadowing an interview, but nervous as I didn’t fully know what to expect for the day.
09:50– I arrived at Wembley Stadium where I was greeted by Justin – we then both signed in. Justin and I had a little chat as we waited for someone to escort us to the box where Tony Adams was waiting. As we made our way to the box I was excited as I had never seen the stadium before, let alone been in one of the boxes.
We arrived to where Tony was waiting and the view was amazing. I took a quick glimpse as we sat down to begin the interview. The interview was great – Tony could talk for England! It lasted around 90 minutes and once it was finished we took some pictures. Tony and I took some outside so you could get the view of the stadium and we also took some inside. Tony then suggested we take one shaking hands as it would look very professional; I uploaded this picture to my Twitter.
12:00- Justin and I made our way to the Arsenal press conference via train. The press conference was due to start at 1pm. During the train journey, Justin was talking about some of his experience in the industry and also gave me some advice. I showed him the questions I prepared and he thought that they were a good idea and came from a different angle.
13:00– The press conference began with Arsene Wenger. Everyone sat down but I stood at the front as I thought I would have a better chance of asking a question from this position. There were many media representatives in the room, but three of them dominated the conference. In the end I never ended up asking him a question. I think nerves got the better of me. However, he did smile and say hello to me, which made me think I was nervous for no reason.
14:30- Alex Oxlade Chamberlain did a Q&A around a table with a few journalists. Justin was on the other side of the room transcribing his interview with Tony. I wasn’t sure if I could sit in the Q&A but I did anyway – I even asked Alex a question. I recorded this before uploading the audio to my website.
After Alex left the room, I was so pleased with myself. Many times I tried to ask him a question and none of the male journalists would let me get a word in. However, one of the Arsenal staff who was recording the Q&A could see me struggling and said to everyone that I could have the next question.
15:00- The press confrence was over. Justin and myself made our way back to the Arsenal train station. Just before we went our seperate ways, we exchanged business cards.