1. How did you get your first opportunity in sport?
I studied Sport Coaching & Performance at The University of Hull, as football was a major passion of mine growing up in Newcastle – especially as I’d previously chosen subjects that I wasn’t so enthusiastic about during my A Levels. During the first lecture, the course leader announced they’d be offering internships at professional football clubs as part of the course. In the end there only ended up being one internship, which came about 18 months later and led to me being at Scunthorpe United in The Championship for two years. I joined as an Intern Performance Analyst working with the First Team and that was a great opportunity to gain real exposure to a professional sporting environment. I absolutely loved it and learned a ton, and after I graduated it led on to my next opportunity in the industry.
2. What is the best sporting event you’ve ever attended?
I’m not sure if it technically counts, but my brother and I were lucky enough to go to WrestleMania 28 in 2012 when The Rock came back after nine years of not being an active wrestler. For an event that’s scripted, I can tell you the atmosphere during the final match of the night was as loud as anything I’ve heard before (and this is coming from a former season ticket holder at St. James’ Park, from back when we were actually decent!). The scale of the event and the level of activity that was happening around Miami, all centred around that one event, was enormous.
3. Who has been the biggest influence on your career?
I’d have to be honest and say it’s my younger brother Phil, who founded Hitmarker. I wouldn’t have been able to work in the esports sector and would never have taken the risk to be a business owner if it wasn’t for his track record with starting other companies and me understanding what he’s be capable of creatively and technically. The main reason a lot of start-ups don’t get off the ground is down to the budget that’s needed for the skillset that he has, and for him to take a chance on me and bring me in to the business when he did has meant we’re so much further than we’d expected to be, in just three years.
4. I’m a big brand with a hefty sponsorship budget – what sport or event should I invest in?
I am firmly of the mindset that esports and gaming is, long-term, what 13-24-year-olds are going to most interested in (if they aren’t already) and that’s the demographic that you want to reach as a brand. The vast majority spend a huge amount of time watching streamers, or they’re playing online games themselves through a variety of mediums. I think the real difference is the shift away from kids pretending to be famous footballers in the playground and instead aspiring to be like the gamers and YouTube personalities they’re watching. There’s huge potential across such a wide variety of games in esports, that you’re able to reach so many different regions with sponsorship activations.
5. Who are three people from the sports industry you’d invite to your dinner party?
Looking at it from the esports side, what I love about this space is that the players are so accessible and approachable. So, when I’m thinking about who I’d invite here, it’s probably more those sports personalities that I’d be more unlikely to cross paths with these days. Forgive me for the one-dimensional answer, but Alan Shearer, Kevin Keegan, and Rafa Benitez would be top of the tree, just so I could chew their ears off about what’s it’s like to play for and manage Newcastle.
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