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06 February 2020 | in Young Reporters Programme

FISU Young Reporters blazing a trail worldwide

Since its inception in 2011, the FISU Young Reporters Programme has produced a dynamic new generation of media professionals who are active in various parts of the world. Among the fifty-odd YRP alumni, some have gone on to achieve outstanding success as sports journalists, while others are charting new paths in new territories.


The one thing they all have in common though, is the fact that they had the rare opportunity to cut their teeth on one of the biggest multi-sport events in the world.


Fabio De Dominicis, YRP 2013“It was an eye-opener for me,” says Fabio De Dominicis, who was part of the programme at the Kazan 2013 Summer Universiade. “In terms of the practical experience gained while reporting; working among the best in the business at the highest level of university sport gave me all the tools, confidence and knowledge to put me in good stead for my current job.”


“In fact, the job I have now is also owed to the people I met and the contacts I made at the 2013 Universiade!” he adds. Fabio currently works at the European University Sports Association (EUSA) based in Slovenia, as Communications Officer. His daily tasks include running the social media accounts, publishing news, conducting interviews and producing printed publications, among others.


“The practical experience is second to none,” he says of the programme. “Working at the Summer World University Games, is working at an event only second to the Olympics.”


Fabio’s byline is a common sight on the FISU website as he continues to be a prolific reporter, contributing news and features on university sport in South Africa, the country he hails from.


Lucie Hrdličková, YRP 2015Another YRP alumna who is a regular on FISU platforms is Czech Lucie Hrdličková. Ever since the Gwangju 2015 Summer Universiade, Lucie has been an integral part of the FISU media team at the World University Games, often the lead face on video stories and social media.


“Being a part of the programme was more beneficial than years of studying journalism at university,” Lucie says candidly. “I continue to benefit from the experiences that FISU gave me then. I’ve covered five Universiades since and hopefully still counting!”


Lucie ensures she takes out time from her busy schedule as a TV news anchor in the Czech Republic, for the flagship FISU events. More so, because they present a greater challenge for her.


“As a non-native English speaker, it was because of FISU that I learned to do interviews in English,” she says. “I also learned to handle extreme conditions. I will never forget waiting and freezing at the top of the Shymbulak mountain during the Almaty 2017 Winter Universiade, all to get an interview with a snowboarder from Argentina who came two hours late. I was sick after, but the interview was worth it!”


James Oana, YRP 2019The Young Reporters Programme has traditionally been conducted at the Summer World University Games (formerly Universiades) but the Krasnoyarsk 2019 Winter Universiade was an exception. FISU selected six promising young reporters from around the world for a scaled-down version of the programme in the heart of Siberia. For someone like James Oana of Australia, who had never been exposed to winter sports, it was an experience of a lifetime.


“The YRP gave me the confidence and belief that I belonged in the real world and that I was capable of being successful in my career,” says James. “The trip to Krasnoyarsk was my first overseas adventure and I got to experience so many wild things in Siberia. The experience helped me grow as a person.”


“Jumping in the Yenisei river in sub-zero temperatures did not help me grow as a person, it was just dumb fun!” laughs James, who currently juggles roles as a business analyst and a media and communication coordinator at a start-up company in Melbourne.


The biggest revelation for James was the “sheer effort that goes into turning chaos into organised chaos.”


Danielle Allentuck, YRP 2019One of James’ batchmates from the programme in Krasnoyarsk is Danielle Allentuck, who is rapidly carving a niche for herself as a sports fellow at the New York Times.


“As a fellow, I’m treated as a full-time assignment reporter,” Danielle explains. “I report on a variety of topics, including baseball, football, basketball, gymnastics and triathlons.”


About her experience at the World University Games, she says, “Learning how to cover a multi-sport event was crucial; figuring out the mixed zones, filing reports on deadlines and finding feature ideas."


"The top skill I took away was learning how to navigate the mixed zones, especially after some of the bigger events when there was a lot of media there.”


Salim Valji, YRP 2017Salim Valji of Canada agrees. “We all had the incredible chance to cover a multi-sport, international event,” he says. “I learned a lot during that experience; how to interview athletes from different sports and cultures, managing deadlines and navigating crowded media scrums, to name a few.”


Salim, who now dons many hats – as he works in production, public relations and journalism – was part of the programme at Taipei 2017. He continues to be in touch with many of his peers from the group. In fact, most of the YRP alumni agree that the programme led to lifelong friendships, bonds and even learning.


“I have to thank my batch-mate Laetitia Beyrouth, for inspiring me to try out photography in addition to writing,” says Annesha Ghosh from India, who works as a multimedia reporter and sub-editor at ESPN Media Digital.


“The 2017 Young Reporters Programme gave rise to my passion for filming, taking photos and having a multimedia approach to my stories,” Annesha continues. “In particular, the YRP experience helped me realise that multimedia journalism is the way forward.”

“And yes, we are in touch with each other, mostly via a WhatsApp group we created during the World University Games,” she adds.


Annesha Ghosh, YRP 2017“In fact, one of my batch-mates, Karl Sundstrom from Sweden, was in India last year for some research on female athletes. I helped him get in touch with a young female cricketer for an interview and suddenly the world felt so small; our objectives were more aligned than ever.”


Annesha, who recently covered the Lausanne 2020 Youth Olympic Games as part of the IOC Young Reporters Programme, has indeed put it in a nutshell. The greatest value of the FISU Young Reporters Programme is the rich network of like-minded, talented young professionals it has created.  


Lucie couldn’t agree more. “We are in touch with each other, mostly through social media and I love seeing them all succeed in both, career and personal life!”


The Young Reporters’ Programme is open to 21 to 25-year-old students or recent graduates in journalism or communications, from the five continents of Africa (1), America (2), Asia (1), Oceania (1) and Europe (1). The next edition of the programme will be staged at the Chengdu 2021 Summer World University Games.