guest post by Harvey Steel
It was decision day during my first year, the dreaded day for all involved. The players dreaded receiving their decisions, the coaches dreaded delivering the painful news and, the first years got to see the harsh realities of the game they loved. One by one the second years filtered back into the changing room to tell us the sour news, some couldn’t hold back the tears, others put on a brave face, but it was in the moment of group sadness that the penny dropped for me.
From this moment on, I couldn’t just define myself as a ‘footballer’, I needed another career path. In one of my latest pieces of writing, ‘The Unseen Challenges On Academy Players’, I used the words,
‘It results in you asking questions of yourself, questions you never even considered when the journey was running smoothly’
and it couldn’t have been more true in this situation. I decided I needed another career path which was right for me.
I am lucky enough to have been around a professional club since the age of 14 so my characteristics have been shaped and moulded so that I always want to succeed. When I say a career path that was ‘right for me’, I mean one where I can envision opportunities, progression and success just like a football career path.
I began the process of discovering what else interested me firstly by simply searching around for what was out there. All I knew was that I wanted to stay within sports and if possible, football. There were the initial sports-based careers that sprung to mind, coaching, personal training etc. but these hadn’t quite hooked me, and I was determined to find something that really grabbed my attention. It wasn’t a quick process, there were many careers I contemplated but eventually I found the one.
My teammates would regularly call me ‘Statman’ due to me always having the stats to back up my points during football conversations. I loved talking about football, I could stand and talk football with anyone all day. In my younger school days, I had always opted for the narrator role in school plays and I’m sure if you spoke to people who know me well they’d tell you I don’t lack confidence when it comes to talking, whether that’s good or bad is up for opinion! It led me to thinking about how I combine this knowledge of sports and confidence to find myself a career. I found sports broadcasting, for which the best place to kick off was with journalism. Even still, I had no idea how to start!
Once I was certain that I wanted to go down the route of sports broadcasting and journalism I began looking deeper into the industry. I already was familiar with Craig Mitch for his time hosting ‘The Lions Den’ during England’s 2018 World Cup campaign and I knew of the likes of David Jones and Jake Humphrey from watching the football on Sky and BT Sports. I spent time learning and researching about the industry, where to start and how to progress all while still training and pursuing my main goal to become a professional footballer. It was actually Jake Humphries, the BT Sport presenter, who gave me the advice to ‘start small and local’ in reply to an advice-seeking Instagram DM so… that’s what I did.
I started up @SteelViews on Twitter in October 2019 with little idea as to what content I could create. I set up the website (www.steelviews.co.uk) to give myself a platform where I could post my content…when I had some. It was after my work experience with Cambridge United’s Media Manager where I discovered a possible jump off point. At Cambridge United, The U18’s squad doesn’t get too much coverage, so I thought what better place to start than my own team!
I began writing up match reports from our games. This was a brilliant way to begin and it gained traction from Cambridge United supporters who were interested in how the youth side were doing. It was when I started my weekly ‘Loan Watch’ series that my site became more popular. Cambridge fans wanted to know how their young talent were doing out on loan and the place they came to find that was on my website with ‘The Loan Watch.’ Unfortunately, the season being cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic meant that my match reports and loan watch series were put on hold, but this presented me with an opportunity to do some other journalism work for my local paper the ‘Cambridge News’.
My journey within football is still uncertain but one thing I do know is that now I don’t just define myself as a footballer it gives me the confidence and certainty that if my football career doesn’t work out how I once planned it would my next challenge is lying in wait.
Harvey is searching for another professional football contract after his release from Cambridge United but plans to pursue further study concurrently. He’s looking for a diversity of experience in journalism and broadcasting with a focus on football. If you can help him out then please give him a shout.
LAPS Members can discuss Harvey’s post on our Community page.