#RYG17 – Reshmin Chowdhury Q&A
This year’s Raise Your Game co-host Reshmin Chowdhury has kindly answered some questions ahead of the national conference at the Emirates on Monday 24 April 2017.
The BBC Sport and BT Sport presenter and journalist sat down to answer some questions about #RYG17, her own career to date, including working abroad, and what it’s like to report on Champions League football.
Reshmin will be co-hosting alongside Max Rushden, the Sky Sports The Fantasy Football Club and talkSPORT presenter.
Please tell us about your career pathway to date?
I definitely took the long route into my current role! Mine was more about creating the building blocks and gaining the right skills en route to doing the job I wanted. I learnt to be a journalist and producer before going on camera, even though presenting and reporting was the goal.
Aside from studying for an NCTJ Post-Graduate Diploma in Newspaper Journalism, I wrote for an online events guide and spent a year working in five different countries, producing business reports for international print media, before moving into TV news. At ITN, I produced on the main ITV news show, but the digital section provided the most brilliant grounding – producing, voicing and editing your own content. From there, I spent time at BBC London, where I got my first taste of reporting, as well as Bloomberg and BBC News.
Always a massive football fan, I found an opportunity at Real Madrid TV in 2008 and I spent two seasons there, living in Madrid and working in Spanish and French. This is a job where you do a lot of everything and it was a wonderful, enriching experience that fast-tracked me to my next role.
I secured a contract with BBC Sports News before I returned home to London in 2010, and have been there ever since. (I’ve also had two stints of maternity in between!) In 2014, I joined BT Sport fronting their sports news show, before beginning reporting duties on the UEFA Champions League and Europa League the following year.
You are co-hosting the Raise Your Game Conference and have previously been a mentor, what was that experience like?
Being an RYG mentor was fantastic. It was lovely to meet so many enthusiastic young people eager to do well in football. As a mentor, you find yourself compelled to help them all, especially the ones you could see had made so many sacrifices to do what they were doing, simply because they were so driven by their raw passion for the game.
You also see yourself in a lot of people and cross your fingers that they will find the right route. As a mentor, RYG is also a great place to meet and catch up with your fellow professionals. I made so many friends from my very first event, most of whom I still connect with regularly now.
Did you have the same opportunities provided to you to aid your journey?
I can honestly say that I never had any of the opportunities available now. Careers in media and sports media are much more structured now than they used to be, which is fantastic for people entering the industry now.
I also never had a mentor throughout my career. For me, the driving force was my determination and confidence in my own ability, as well as unfaltering support from my family and friends in all the decisions I made – crazy as many of them were! I was absolutely focused on my goal, always studying people doing the job and finding out how they got there, always finding names of the right people and trying to open doors, even when they seemed firmly shut. There was a period where my goal was a painfully long way away. I developed a very thick skin, but always had a steely confidence that this was the job I knew I could do.
I am in a different phase of my career now where I have built many networks in a very natural and organic way. It means I can call upon many senior people who I simply didn’t know well enough before. Incidentally, I never enjoyed “networking” per se in the early stage of my career, because it all felt quite artificial to me!
I think the advent of social media has made it much easier to access the right people and companies across the board have now realised that opening doors for young hopefuls is mutually beneficial.
What advice would you give to those that are attending the conference?
You are extremely lucky to be in a position to meet and talk to people who live and breathe this industry, so I would really make the most of the opportunity. If you know who you are speaking with, then come prepared.
Find out as much as you can about them so you can ask questions that are directly relevant. If you don’t make the time to do that, your valuable slot will not serve its purpose and – saying this in the kindest way possible – this could turn out to be a waste of your time and theirs!
Having said that, every mentor will probably give you some insightful food for thought, even if it might not be obvious at first. So in every sense, keep an open mind to learn as much as you can on the day and don’t be shy to ask for contacts who could open doors.
I would also use the opportunity to make friends and build networks among your fellow mentees, because this journey can be a daunting one and it’s good to know like minded individuals who can follow and support you on your way.
We couldn’t let you go without asking you about one of the greatest nights in Champions League history. Barcelona 6-1 PSG. Just what was it like to experience the Camp Nou on that historic night?
OMG! Having been a football fan for more years than I care to remember, I can honestly say that those are the nights that you live for. Football is pure passion and as a sports fan and journalist, it was magnificent.
On a Champions League night, I will usually leg it down to the “Flash Area” for our post-match interviews around ten minutes before full-time. However, this was different. There was something in the air, everybody could feel it, and my producer and I were rooted to the spot. Three goals in seven minutes and Barca had achieved mission impossible.
I posted a video straight after Sergi Roberto’s historic goal in the dying minutes, which went viral on Twitter, capturing all the journalists in the press box.
We all felt that, it was a moment in history and it wasn’t about football allegiance, it was simply about passion. I interviewed Neymar and Ivan Rakitic that night and it was heart-warming to see their pure elation.
We’ve seen some amazing comebacks in football over the years and they are special because they are few and far between. I feel extremely privileged to have been at the Camp Nou that night.