In October 2021, Chelsea FC Foundation teamed up with the Black Collective of Media in Sport (BCOMS), an organisation on a mission to diversify sports media in the UK, launching a joint programme to offer aspiring sports journalists from under-represented backgrounds free access to journalistic qualifications. Hear from our first two members here...

The inaugural programme forms part of Chelsea’s No To Hate campaign, and just one of many initiatives in our ambitions to increase representation within the football industry and our wider communities. Each year, through the programme, two students will complete a fully-funded NCTJ-accredited course at the News Associates that will be integral to their development as sports journalists. They will also receive a contribution to their living expenses.

In its opening year, the recipients of the bursary programme were Um-E-Aymen Babar and Brian Matovu. Both Aymen and Brian have been studying at the News Associates since February and will finish the fast-track course by the end of July.

Chelsea caught up with both Brian and Aymen to understand what a typical ‘Day in the Life’ on the course is like. We also asked them what their favourite parts of the course have been so far.


'Well, where do I begin! This course has been a journey! Given that it is a fast-track course, we have had to hit the ground running as it is very easy to fall behind. But throughout the process we have been supported by all the staff, alongside wonderful classmates who have turned into some of my closest friends.

'A normal day at News Associates starts at 9.30am and ends at 5.30pm which is great because it prepares you for a regular working day. From 9.30 to lunchtime, we would be practising our shorthand. Shorthand is a method of writing using abbreviations and symbols, used by journalists to take dictation quickly.

'You’re probably thinking why is the shorthand module so long? This is because it requires a lot of time and practice – it is like learning a new language! It gets frustrating and tiresome, requiring constant persistence and practice, but that is the only way to get better.'

Aymen:'The module I struggled the most with was shorthand. At the start it can seem very strange and frustrating and I know I wasn’t alone in feeling like that. You have to practise little and often, and eventually you’re using it without even realising. It is recommended that you do two hours of shorthand practice each day and while this may seem like a lot of work, it is so important that we do it, especially on a fast-track course where you have to put the work in everyday.

'The other modules are Essential Journalism, Public Affairs, Digital Journalism, Media Law and Sports Journalism. All these modules are integral to your development as a journalist as you learn core skills such as finding the best line for a story, writing SEO headlines or reading a news bulletin. At times the workload gets overwhelming so it was really important I stayed organised and prioritised as required.'

Brian:'During the course we got to do creative work, going out into the streets and finding our own stories, which was really exciting. Every Friday we have placement days and due to News Associates having SportsBeat downstairs, I was able to do my placement there. Through this, I was able to attend football matches and cover the games which was a great eye-opener into sports media! As well as this, I had the opportunity to interview athletes and write match previews for teams such as Brentford and QPR.'

Aymen:'One of my favourite modules has been Digital Journalism. I found it really interesting and as the media landscape has turned towards having an online presence, the skills I’ve learnt in this module has been really helpful. Of course, being a sports journalist and with the women's Euros approaching, I chose to write about the history of women’s football and learnt so much through my research and interviews.

'A highlight of the course has definitely been the friends I’ve made along the way. You’re all in the same boat and while you will all have different interests, you will rise through the ranks together so it’s amazing to have these connections.

'The course has equipped us with the necessary skills we need to excel in a professional career in Journalism. There have been moments where it’s been difficult, but I’ve enjoyed it so much – from uncovering stories, to learning about my passions and discovering where I want to position myself in the media.'The industry needs to be more diverse and inclusive and I’m glad we’ve been given a chance to make our mark.'

Applications for the 2023 bursary programme will open in October this year.