“There are so many ways to get into sports journalism”
Anna-Louise Adams is a young female journalist with a CV that has more experience than many established peers working in the same field. After setting up her own blog and working with Football Exclusives, a non-league football website, she became a regular attendee at Kick It Out’s Raise Your Game conferences.
She’s currently working at the BBC after finishing her ‘A’ levels and applying for a university place. Anna writes exclusively for us about her journey so far and her ambitions for the future. She can be reached on @annalouiseadams and on her blog, www.90minutesmore.co.uk
I got into football writing after my dad bought a Blackburn Rovers season ticket just before my 17th birthday. I decided I’d set up a blog and write about the team, and since then, I found that I really enjoyed it and things have snowballed for me. I then joined Football Exclusives and went out to cover non-league matches and I’ve been really lucky in terms of the opportunities that have been presented to me that I’ve been able to take.
One of my assignments with Football Exclusives was to go to Kick It Out’s Raise Your Game conference in April 2013 to conduct interviews. I also went to the Women’s Raise Your Game conference that year as well as the same conferences in 2014. I felt it was really important to establish those connections and to get advice from the mentors – so I changed from seeing it as a press thing to something that I could learn from myself.
I think the Raise Your Game concept is brilliant, and there are subtle differences between them. I think the biggest one is that everyone is united towards breaking down barriers, not just for ourselves, but for everyone else, and when you’re at the Women’s event, there’s an instant closeness to everyone else in the room. You all have a common goal that goes beyond wanting to work in football.
I could see myself one day being a mentor at a future conference. For me, it’s about constantly striving for more and increasing my understanding as a member of the media. My background is a little different too. I’m 18, and I’m applying for courses to study Philosophy at university. I think Philosophy is really useful as it allows me to evaluate the parameters of football. I don’t really see myself as a tactician; I like to evaluate problems in football like discrimination, morality within the game and other issues. It will help me structure my arguments and evaluate a topic by giving more than one side of a story.
You don’t have to have a conventional sports background to get into sport. For me, I found something I enjoy and it helps that I’m pretty good at it, so with a lot of help and hard work, I’m really happy to be to where I am at the moment. It isn’t about ‘x’ amounts of experience or ‘y’ amounts of talent, it’s a mixture of everything and there’s so many different routes into the industry.
The main thing I’ve learned is the importance of being able to connect with and develop relationships with people, to tell them what your work is about and have people to speak to about what you want to do. I have a strong support network, with a lot of those people being from Raise Your Game conferences. One of those is Shelley Alexander, the Editorial Lead for Women’s Sport at the BBC and Chair of Kick It Out’s Mentoring Delivery Group.
I was the youngest to apply to the BBC trainee sports reporter role, and although I got to the final 10, the position went to someone more experienced. Shelley and I kept in touch and helped me to secure some work at BBC Sport. I’d like one day to present Match of the Day. I’m a big fan of Jacqui Oatley – she is so determined and has achieved a huge amount. And although she’s not a sports broadcaster, I really admire Karren Brady as she’s been so successful in her field.
The best advice I could give anyone would be to start a blog. That’s the first way to get your voice heard. The second is through social media and I think it remains underrated. You have to make the most of things like Twitter and to put your work out there with it. Opportunities in this industry are quite rare, so it’s really important to be resilient and work hard for them. It’s not possible to take a back seat.