Blog post

How I got to work as a reporter at the 2019 Women’s World Cup

The life of a journalist is not all glitz and glamour, it is perhaps best characterised as travel and tiredness. However, the opportunity to work in the game you love is second to none and is highly rewarding. You certainly get out what you put in.

By Thomas Smith - 12 July 2019

From London to Lyon

Having caught the bug for tournament action after being at the 2018 Men's World Cup in Russia, the opportunity to return to France following the initial 17 day trip with the University of Derby was one I could not pass up. However, despite Lyon typically only being a two-hour flight from England, high demand and even higher prices saw me seek an alternative route. After too many hours spent on Google maps and various travel sites, I discovered an overnight bus from London to Lyon. Whilst the 13-hour journey time was not so appealing, the 28 euro price tag certainly was.

But where was I going to stay? Hotel rooms were non-existent and hostels fully booked. Fortunately, Airbnb came to the rescue and I snapped up a spare room in a city centre apartment.

Conversations and Croissants

Having arrived in Lyon at 8.30 am on matchday, I proceeded bleary-eyed to a nearby hotel and shared croissants with Pat Nevin, Rachel Brown-Finnis and John Murray (all working for BBC 5Live), before featuring live on 5Live Breakfast from Lyon. With no time to catch up on sleep, I dropped my bags at the Airbnb and headed to the Football Supporters, Association Fans Embassy point. There I spent the afternoon helping England fans before heading to the stadium for England v USA.

Having negotiated stadium security and collected my press ticket, I ate something that constituted dinner and mingled with the other assembled media, including Lionesses photographer Lynne Cameron and FIFA Social Media lead Alex Stone. With the team sheets released, a media frenzy followed, as journalists scrambled for news over the absent Megan Rapinoe and Karen Bardsley. The excitement levels were building, but so was the tension.

The game itself went by quick as a flash and with it, England's World Cup dream was over. With 500-odd words filed to the FA, I raced down the ten flights of stairs to the heaving mixed zone. There along with other journalists, I spoke to Carly Telford and Jill Scott, as well as Rapinoe.

Between the press pack, these were duly transcribed, embargoes agreed and the media shuttle boarded back to the centre. Sleep, as you may have gathered, becomes a rare commodity, and the following morning, with less than half-a-dozen hours sleep, I again appeared on BBC 5Live; partly for the free breakfast...

Back to the Stadium

But there was to be no time for a daytime nap as post-match reaction pieces needed writing and planning for semi-final number two was already overdue. The glitz and glamour eh? Back to the stadium, through the labyrinth which was the stadium and here we go again.

Pre-match nattering, filing on the whistle and fighting your way to the front in the mixed zone. Transcribe. Transport. Sleep at last. I keep being reminded that Lyon is lovely, a picturesque city dissected by the rivers Rhône and Saône. Not that I've seen much of it yet.

But am I complaining? No chance. Hopefully, in the future, I'll get to do it all over again.

About the author

Thomas Smith
Second year Football Journalism student

Thomas is a second-year Football Journalism student at the University of Derby. He has worked at both the Men’s and Women’s FIFA World Cups over the last two summers.