Football journalism student lands dream New Zealand opportunity thanks to Derby graduate

16 July 2019

One of the University of Derby’s first football journalism students is heading Down Under for an unrivalled opportunity to write about - and play - the game she loves, thanks to a Derby graduate.

Holly Percival will fly out to New Zealand this weekend after being offered an internship by University of Derby alumnus Chris Wright, the chief executive of the Football South federation and the Southern United Football Club.

Holly will be joining the Dunedin-based club in the role of media officer for the NZ National League season as part of a work exchange programme.

And the talented 21-year-old, who has played for the University’s women’s football team, will also be trialling for the Southern United women’s squad, having herself just returned from France where she covered the FIFA Women’s World Club with fellow students from Derby’s football journalism course.

Holly said: “I didn’t really think an opportunity like this would ever be available to me, to be able to work for a federation, a club and also play football, but with this internship that’s exactly what I’m getting.

“I think it is going to be invaluable learning experience, not only to better my playing ability but to adapt to different cultural experiences and how different countries produce football journalism content. I’m really excited to have this opportunity and to be able to keep perfecting my skills and the content I’m putting out, whether it’s for social media, for websites or print.”

Chris, who completed his Information Studies degree at Derby in 2008, said: “This is the start of an exciting opportunity where we’ll be looking to link the football journalism course at Derby with our own scholarships programme here in Otago.

“Having someone of Holly’s experience and abilities here will ensure that not only do Southern United have another year of great media presence, but that there is good equality of reporting across the club’s four teams.”

Holly, who will watch her classmates graduate at Derby Arena this week before flying out, added: “The lecturers on the football journalism course have been so amazing in giving us the ideal real world learning environment. I think if I hadn’t had that I wouldn’t be nearly as confident as I am to push to go and travel and work internationally.

“They’ve provided opportunities, such as going to the Women’s World Cup, which have prepared us so that when we go out and do it, we can go on and succeed.”

Fiona Shelton, Dean of Students at the University of Derby, said: “I think this opportunity for Holly is particularly exciting because it has come about through one of our alumni.

”We believe in encouraging our students to push their boundaries and to develop a global perspective of the world, by gaining insight into the lives other people live, and to consider how their discipline fits with that.

“Expanding your horizons helps you to understand your subject in much broader terms and provides you with a deeper awareness of what you have learned and the impact that studying at university can have on your life.

“Holly is demonstrating that if you grasp these opportunities and push yourself out of your comfort zone you can achieve fantastic things.” 

Student Holly Percival standing outside the University of Derby sports centre
Holly Percival

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