Nemesha Balasundaram, left, is an award-winning sports journalist who studied her NCTJ Diploma in Journalism at News Associates in London. She features in the latest video by the NCTJ in partnership with Sky Sports News which encourages more women to consider a career in sports journalism.
In this blog, Nemesha discusses how she landed her ‘dream’ job and what needs to be done to make the sector more accessible to women.
Becoming a sports journalist has been a lifelong dream.
It may sound cliché, but ever since I can remember, the thought of interviewing my favourite sporting heroes was a career goal.
The beauty of the profession is that a curiosity for a story and a passion for sport are the driving factors. If you’ve got both of those in abundance then you’ve already made it out of the starting block.
Today, the number of female role models in the profession is increasing. The likes of Jacqui Oatley, Eleanor Oldroyd and Karthi Gnanasegaram are well established in the world of sports journalism, but historically there’s been a distinct lack of recognition for the work of women in the field.
Sports journalism needs to be accessible to women, but that will only happen once a generation of female sports enthusiasts feel inspired to take the journey.
Guided by a path of traditional academic education, I read law at university and continued on to my postgraduate studies.
However, after graduating, I just couldn’t envisage myself living a lawyer’s lifestyle.
With a burning desire to experiment with my words, I started a sports blog. Admittedly, I kept it private, petrified of exposing myself to potential criticism that would inevitably crush my dreams.
Despite a lack of audience, I found that the blog provided evidence of my passion and commitment to becoming a sports journalist. It was a useful tool that served as an amateur portfolio and earned me my first job covering an Arsenal ladies game at the Emirates Stadium.
It’s certainly a way of standing out in a saturated market of budding sports writers. It’ll develop your writing style if nothing else.
Two things that you’ll need in the profession are resilience and an eye for a story. Some of the most interesting stories I’ve covered are those where I’ve ‘found’ a rising sports star.
Working as a sports reporter at The Irish Post has given me a platform from which I’ve also been lucky enough to cover international football, rugby and cricket.
The job’s a dream, but I’ll confess that there are times where it isn’t as glamorous as I’d initially anticipated. Standing on the sidelines covering Gaelic football games in the pouring rain, with a drenched notepad and frozen fingers is certainly a test – but it’s what I signed up for and I secretly love every minute.
Whenever I’ve stood in the dugouts or reported from a press box, the lack of fellow female journalists is disheartening. I recently attended a boxing weigh-in where I was the only woman in the room. The first one or two times where that has happened, I’ll confess, was intimidating.
But on the third and fourth occasion you remember that you’re there to do a job. I’m as passionate and as dedicated as they come, and it’s my ability that’ll carry me through my career. Not my sex.
So I’d advise any women thinking of a career in sports journalism to take the leap.