FOOTBALL has always been my greatest passion and undoubtedly always will be.
It was there for me in the darkest of times in my young adulthood, when, if I took a ball outside and kicked it about, then all my troubles would disappear for awhile and I’d feel alright again.
Therefore, it should come as no surprise that I’m pursuing a career in football journalism nowadays.
Upon realising that I’m not quite good enough to join the likes of Olivier Giroud or Aaron Ramsey at Arsenal (although I’m not far off Theo Walcott!), I decided that the next best step to continue my passion for the game was by writing about it.
The truth is, I’ve always been fascinated by the game and in time, have become completely obsessed with it, as my closest friends will surely know by now.
Even when I was younger, say about 11 or 12 years old, I’d whip out my notepad whilst watching Match of the Day to jot down who had scored, what minute it was that they scored in, where teams were in the league, etc. When I played FIFA, I’d jot down players stats too and I still have those notepads to this day because it reminds me of where it all began for me.
I suppose it sounds nerdy as hell, but it’s the truth. It’s where my inspiration for writing about football was born and I’ve continued the journey since.
It’s helped me in so much more than just the one way though.
For years, I’ve suffered from (at times) severe social anxiety, meaning that I couldn’t go and interact with people without my palms getting all sweaty or my mind running wild with thoughts about how I could embarrass myself or how a situation could become bad, even though I knew in my heart that there was nothing to worry about.
It’s hard to write about it, because I know some of you won’t understand and whilst others will, I think it’s important to highlight struggles from time to time (although I won’t overdo it I promise).
I suppose that the nervousness or the fear, whatever you want to call it, came from a feeling of not being good enough, due to the breakdown in my relationships, grades at school, troubles at home, etc. When I got to University, in the second year, it became so bad at one point that I couldn’t even go into my lectures because I felt that people would judge me.
Eventually things got better and I found myself with a new purpose in life. I began writing this blog and thus officially kicked off my football journalism career some three and a half years ago.
Now, whenever I feel a little bit down or anxious, I log on to AFEFootballNews as it has become like an escape to me. A place where I can write down my opinions and they won’t be judged. Of course, it is always nice to hear feedback though!
I have had people stop me in the street noticing me for some of my articles that I have written and even on drunken nights out in Bangor I’ve had chats with people about some of my opinions and they’ve responded with theirs.
It’s a fantastic feeling to know that someone not only appreciates the work you do, but is inspired by it and also wants to challenge some of your opinions and ask you what you think of a certain topic.
I regularly have people inboxing me on Twitter to ask about the Welsh Premier League and test my knowledge of it. I’m always grateful to those people who do that (you know who you are!).
I have started contributing to Y Clwb Pel Droed over the past two months too. It is a truly incredible resource for any fans out there who are wanting to learn more about Welsh football (several different leagues) as it improves day on day thanks to the hard work of the editors and contributors. They’re all a group of dedicated and hard working Welsh journalists like myself who want to provide the best service they can for fans and I’m very proud to be a part of it.
My anxiety has been quelled further recently by interviewing WPL players (something I would never have done in the past) and also getting to know people from the FAW, WPL and various football clubs in the league by attending matches on behalf of the North Wales Chronicle.
My job with the Chron has certainly helped me as well as answering the phone, calling up people myself and going out and meeting new people, like I did at the Anglesey show last week, has made me forget about my social awkwardness.
It’s been a long battle with the illness (?), but I finally feel like I am heading towards that light at the end of the tunnel and my writing has made me feel like I can achieve anything.
I mean it in the least egotistical way possible when I say that I am proud of how far I have come on my journey. I know that I still have an awful long way to go, but I know that I will eventually get to where I need to be and I am always grateful to those around me for their continued support.