I was just waking up in Paris. My phone buzzed. It was a simple text message that informed me the biggest moment of my career would take place that afternoon.
“We want you to commentate on the Nadal vs Djokovic match, if that’s alright…?” That might not mean much to a non-sports fan, but my belly immediately turned into a washing machine going at full pelt. I knew this particular match at the French Open - between two of the greatest sportsmen that have ever lived - could be remembered as one of the most important matches in recent times...and I was being asked to commentate on the match on the official global television broadcast...Gulp!
I sat in the commentary booth up in the sky, looking down on the crowd below buzzing beside the historic Philippe Chatrier orange clay court. I tried to control my nerves and fight imposter syndrome. I pretended to all around that it was completely normal for a scruffy 26-year old lad from Burton-upon-Trent with holes in his socks to be in the commentary box one down from where John McEnroe and chums were broadcasting across the USA…I doubt he had holes in his.
Even though it was a big match, I’d gradually become used to commentating to millions of people (which seems bonkers to write now) and managed to pull off a steady commentary without making any big mistakes. Relief! When I got to the end, I took a moment to savour it because, deep down, I knew I wouldn’t get many chances to enjoy such occasions again...and that would be my choice.
Throughout my sports journalism career, I’d always had a thought in the back of my mind nagging away telling me to do something that was “actually” going to help people. But, it had always been my dream since a little kid to become a sports commentator and I’m glad I pursued that. Travelling far and wide waffling about football and tennis, mainly, was an immense privilege. By 2014 though, everything was beginning to change.
I lived and worked in Uruguay for a while. I trained for 12 months to successfully break a Guinness World Record. I finally came out to my family over Christmas dinner...next on my list of wacky adventures was to work out what I wanted to do with my career.
Sports journalism has been great fun, but it wasn’t quite fulfilling. I found out why when I joined Escape the City’s Escape Tribe in early 2015. Charly, one of the career coaches leading a workshop, asked us the question “When was the last time you felt alive?” Introspecting over that single question helped me work out that what I loved the most was helping people feel valued and empowered to achieve their ambitions. I knew I wasn’t going to get that out of commentating on Torquay United away...so then what?
To continue to Part 2, click here