University of Portsmouth English Literature graduate Ben Green reflects on his passion for football and his career as a sports journalist.
My journey into the world of sports journalism first started with a childhood hobby, but soon developed into a working obsession.
Growing up my two biggest passions were writing and football (and still are), so it certainly helped that I was born into a family of football fanatics, which is where my affection for the fields truly blossomed.
And that affection soon matured into something much more than just watching sport. I began attending football games and writing match reports when I got home, soaking up the on-field drama and relaying what I saw on the terraces into my notebook.
I continued this right through my teenage years but always considered it something of a pastime rather than a career venture – that is, until I attended university.
When I pitched up at Portsmouth I still continued to travel back to London and watch football on a weekly basis – West Ham, for anyone interested – while I also used to cart up and down the country visiting some of the most iconic grounds on these shores.
However, once I started to realise that I would soon be moving into work after my studies, I panicked. I had applied for work experience at various newspapers in London pre-university, and was taken onboard at a couple of established publications. Here I was able to immerse myself in the industry: attending press conferences, subbing news items, transcribing etc. But I never felt that I truly had the background or know-how to make it in the field.
Third year arrived in Portsmouth and that panic grew stronger. I had never been one for talking to lecturers during out-of-class hours; it was always just ‘get the work done and move on’. But, after a number of conversations with my university tutor, she made me realise that I could seriously make a career out of my passion.
As such, I applied for a Masters in journalism, continued writing my match reports and tried to get as much work experience as possible, even if it was just with the local gazette. Simply put, I tried everything at this stage to combine my hobby/passion with a fervent desire to forge a career out of it.
Whilst studying for my masters, I picked up a few contacts during my work experience days, and this was where my big breakthrough came. My name was passed on and I had a trial week for an online sports outlet. Safe to say my years of practice paid off straight away, and I have since been working for that same company for nearly two years now.
I suppose in a way I was lucky that my two passions crossed over (football and writing), but there was certainly nothing fortuitous about the end product. All those days of writing up match reports, consistently applying for work experience, pursuing a masters – which I had never considered before my final year at university – networking as much as possible whilst at the papers and just practicing the craft continuously, all helped to get me to where I am today.
Indeed, there has never been a greater time to transform a passion into a career. It’s just about honing the skill every single day, but if it truly is a passion, then those days will fly by.
Ben Green is a journalist for the football website Squawka