Chelsea Foundation awards bursaries to two aspiring sports journalists

Um-E-Aymen Babar and Brian Matovu will begin studying at the News Associates in February 2022, where they will complete an NCTJ course that will be fundamental for their development as sports journalists.

The Foundation’s bursary programme, which was announced in October this year, is part of our work to help diversify the game – a central tenet of the ‘No To Hate’ campaign, funded by club owner Roman Abramovich.

Formed in partnership with the Black Collective of Media in Sports (BCOMS), an organisation on a mission to diversify the sports media in the UK, the bursary programme sets out to completely fund two students from under-represented backgrounds to complete the NCTJ course at the News Associates and offer a contribution to their living expenses too.

For the past 18 months the club has collaborated with BCOMS to provide a press seat at each home game for their students, helping provide professional access and opportunity to young aspiring journalists who might otherwise not have the chance to attend, experience and report on elite football.

‘I am honoured to be named one of the recipients for the inaugural Chelsea X BCOMS Bursary,' said Aymen.

‘The interview panel was diverse and inclusive and made me feel very welcomed and relaxed. I felt comfortable talking about my experiences and my plans for future endeavours.

‘I am so grateful for the opportunity to grow as a writer and a thinker. I hope to continue producing journalism that speaks to the heart of this country as we all work together to diversify sports media.’

Brian echoed Aymen’s excitement and gratitude: ‘The process was really straight-forward, it felt like a genuine conversation where I could project my passions and motivations to thrive in sports journalism.

‘I’m so excited to start the course and I’m looking forward to sharpening up my skills as well as learning from the best teachers.’

All bursary candidates were interviewed by a panel of representatives from Chelsea FC and BCOMS.

Steve Atkins, director of communications and Helen Crossley, global social media manager at Chelsea FC, joined the interviews. Speaking on the interview process and partnership with BCOMS, they said: ‘Partnering with BCOMs to offer these bursaries is another important step in the club’s aim to lead the way in promoting equality and diversity.

‘We’ve no doubt that all of the candidates that we interviewed have very bright futures ahead of them. Chelsea would like to congratulate Aymen and Brian on their achievement and look forward to seeing their careers develop.’

Also part of the interview process were Leon Mann MBE and Drew Christie, founder and chair of BCOMS. Drew said: ‘BCOMS works hard to help diversity the UK sports media, and it's been fantastic to find a partner like Chelsea who believe in the future we're trying to bring to reality.

‘Ayeman and Brian came through an extremely tough field to claim this inaugural bursary award. They're two talented young sports journalists who we believe have great futures ahead of them.’

Leon also commented: ‘The quality of bursary applications was incredibly high, which goes to show how much talent there is out there from underrepresented communities. Brian and Aymen are truly outstanding and deserving recipients who have the potential to go right to the top. We cannot wait to see them push forward in the sports media.

‘BCOMS would like to thank the Chelsea Foundation for collaborating with us on this important initiative and club owner, Roman Abramovich, for his support.’

More from chelsea