My university story: Football Journalism Scholarship

I have a very cliché aspiration; to represent my country and become the best version of myself both on and off the pitch. Hence, I am an advocate for the opportunities that the University of Derby have provided me with both in my football and education.

Where it began

I started out playing football at 4 years old, and now I am about to embark on a Football Journalism degree through a fully funded scholarship, in partnership with Derby County Ladies.

My passion for football start when my Grandad took me along to a training session with my Brother’s boots and shin pads on, just a mere 2 sizes too big, at my then local Hawkinge Youth Side. I remained in a boy’s squad here until U10 level, but was only able to play 1 game because of my gender. A girls team was eventually brought in, and during that first season we won both the league and cup titles! Some of the girls I played with during that season I still play with today.

Throughout school I continued to play football, and upon completing my BTEC’s I started looking into Sports Psychology as this is a career path I’ve always wanted to take.

A new opportunity

However, my career path took a turn when I was scrolling through football news on Twitter and came across the University of Derby Scholarship opportunity. After reading into the course I decided to get in touch with the University and Derby County Ladies and from there it all happened very quickly!

I was provided with two dates for training sessions with Derby County Ladies, as well as an Open Day visit opportunity. When I visited Derby County I was firstly met by the manager at the time, John Bennett, who instantly put me at ease. I was then introduced to the team and the chairman, Duncan Gibb, which was very daunting but a notable experience.

I was of course nervous for my training sessions but I went in with a positive attitude. The training sessions lasted 2 hours each and were of a high tempo and high quality as you’d expect. We did some basic possession games concentrating on different aspects of the game such as acknowledging the signs of when to press before moving this in to a game-based practise.

Derby Difference

It didn’t feel as though it was a trial, despite the obvious pressure. I saw it more as a training session that helped me to focus on myself. After the training sessions I had an interview with the Programme Leader at the University, and found out that I had been made an offer from both the University and the Football Club. Sam Griffiths, the 1st team Manager, emailed me to let me know the good news, and I was delighted as well as relieved that I was about to embark on 3 years of doing something I love.

I’m only a few weeks into my scholarship, but I’ve already been given the opportunity to experience real life journalism, I was invited to attend the U20 Women’s World Cup in France by the Programme Leader.

On this trip, I expected to be more of a ‘back seat passenger’ in terms of allowing current students to get their work out in to the journalistic world as well as create experiences for them. However, I was very wrong, I was thrown straight into the deep end (very glad I was) where I was responsible for the ‘Vlogging’ of the trip which saw me document everything we got up to in France.

As well as this I was also lucky enough to be able to write for SheKicks; a Women’s Football magazine. Whilst in France, I also got to watch England train before meeting a couple of their players for interviews with the whole trip being topped off with meeting Phil Neville and then interviewing former French international Laura Georges.

The course

Within my first 2 weeks of the course, I have started to learn the basic key skills for my journalism education. I’ve also had the opportunity to watch and report on England Women vs Brazil as well as getting some insightful knowledge from the likes of Nigel Clough, Andy Walker and Chris Iwelumo.

I have also had to balance studying with football training every day, as part of the scholarship allows me to play for both the University of Derby football team and Derby County Ladies Football Club. Training with both teams has been very intense and tiring but I’m enjoying it and can’t wait to see the improvements in my game.

If you’re considering applying for the Football Journalism scholarship at the University of Derby, all I can advise is; do it! I genuinely believe that I wouldn’t have had the opportunities and support elsewhere that I’ve received so far by the University of Derby and Derby County Ladies.

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