Amy McNiven is a Cardiff City Player HD TV Presenter and Fan Engagement Manager at Cardiff City Football Club.
She’s been hosting the Club’s weekly feature programme “In The City” for the past four years, and now co-presents “Made With the Bluebirds” on Made In Cardiff, Sky Channel 134.
What is your sporting background?
As a child, I was really fortunate to have parents who wholeheartedly believed in the importance of sport – both as recreational and competitive outlets, so growing up I was encouraged to be active. My sporting background is a bit of a mixed bag, to be honest – whilst I considered sprinting my primary sport throughout my teenage years, in which I competed at national level, I also competed in netball, tennis and swimming at regional levels. So between track and gym sessions with weekends spent competing, I still had to fit in time on the courts and wherever else training would take me. My sprinting career wasn’t as long-lived as I’d always hoped though, and I was forced to cut right down on training due to injury – needless to say, I was heartbroken. At that point, I found a happy compromise in the idea of incorporating sport into my career ambitions, which was when I decided that sports media was the path I wanted to take.
How has sport influenced other aspects of your life?
I’m a very competitive person – I always have been, which is fundamental in sport, especially when competing. That being said, as I’ve gotten older I’ve learned that placing too much pressure on yourself often does more damage than good. It’s good to have the drive and ambition to always better yourself, but it’s also good to have the ability to appreciate what you’ve already achieved.
Tell us a bit about your role at Cardiff City Football Club and how it came about.
I graduated from Cardiff University with an Honours Degree in Journalism, Film and Media before spending a few months living in New York City, back in 2010. Though I never actually played football myself, I always loved the game, which was probably a result of growing up as the only girl of the family – plus I’m half Italian, so that speaks for itself really! Upon my return to the UK, I began writing the odd football blog here and there, and decided one day to try my luck and send in a piece of my work to Cardiff City FC. It all went from there and has been an adventure ever since! I started working alongside two other girls as the Club’s in-house TV Presenters for the 2012/13 season – I’m currently the sole presenter at the club, and was also promoted into the role of Fan Engagement Manager earlier this year. It certainly helps that I have had a few seasons to establish a relationship with the fans because they’re now key to what I do and what we can achieve in the future.
Can you pin point any key milestones or significant memories in your career?
Undoubtedly, one of the most memorable occasions to date as a club, was our promotion to the Premier League back in 2013 – I’d never seen so many people line the streets of the city for the bus parade and I was immensely proud to be the person who had the honour of interviewing the players and manager as we toured the streets of Cardiff. On a more personal level though, I’ll never forget when Sports Journalist, Gabriele Marcotti actually read one of my articles, and tweeted me saying “Nice piece, Amy!” – I think I’ve still got that screenshot on my phone! I just remember feeling so wowed by the fact that, even with half a million Twitter followers, he actually to read my work – that was probably the first time that I genuinely believed in myself.
On a typical workday, how do you start your day and how does it end?
I like to get up and get active from the get-go, so I get to the gym most days for 6am – it gets it out of the way, and generally encourages me to stay healthy throughout the day. Typically, I’ll be based at the stadium for meetings and day to day work, so I’ll get in, ready to start for 9am (by which time I’ll have had at least three coffees!) I like to go through my emails and social media messages first thing, but thereafter my days never tend to follow a standard regime – we encourage the players to be very active in the community so I’m usually out and about with them, if not filming for Player HD or in meetings. Of course, there are games then on the weekends and sometimes on Tuesday evenings, so it’s pretty full on! On quieter days I’ll finish up at around 5pm before heading home…right in time to battle with rush hour traffic!
Do you consider yourself to be a Role Model? Have there been key figures that have influenced and/or inspired you?
Perhaps I wouldn’t say “role model” – I’m flattered to even be asked the question! I’d certainly like to think that I might be a good example of ‘not giving up when things don’t necessarily go to plan’ – I stayed true to what I enjoy, which is sport and I’ve managed to immerse myself in it through the means of media and management. If anything, I hope I can inspire young girls to get involved in the world of football and sport.
How do you measure success in your line of work?
In the game itself, success can be determined by a quantitative outcome – the score speaks for itself, you either win, lose or draw. It doesn’t end there for us behind-the-scenes; if our supporters have had an enjoyable experience at the stadium, then that’s what I’d very much consider to be a success. My team and I created what might be one of our biggest successes off the field to date, in our Club Goal of the Month competition which is a very humbling initiative that unites the entire club. We film every level of football to play under the Club’s crest, and believe we’re the only club on a worldwide scale to do so! Recently, the hard work that goes into making Cardiff City Stadium a venue where family, friends or individuals can have a great day out has been recognised many times, and that makes me proud too.
We’ve received nomination for ‘Best Venue Project’ for the 2016 Install Awards, ‘Best Entertainment Venue of the Year’ at the AV 2016 Awards, ‘Community Club of the Year’ at the Football League awards. In conjunction with our digital partners Tripleplay, we also won ‘Best Technology Award’ at the 2016 Sports Technology Awards, so we must be doing something right! The best measure of success will be whether we can now maintain these standards, if not better them – I have confidence that we can.
What do you think that the world of business and the world of sport can learn from each other?
If there’s one thing that stood out to me more than anything from my time in New York, it’s that sport is business…it’s a massive business! I just love the American approach to sport – everyone seems to buy into it, both literally and in spirit. Whilst I was there, the NY Giants won the Super Bowl and the whole city was about the Giants – everyone had the jersey, the caps, the merchandise and that was just an observation of my immediate surroundings within the city. There’s then the wider spread interest, with people making just as much a fuss about the half-time break and the commercial breaks as they do about the sport – why?
Because they’re entertaining to watch too. People want to be entertained, and I think in the world of sport it’s key to ensure your fans have the best value for money possible, in terms of their entertainment. People also want to feel involved and relevant which is why I try to act upon every comment or suggestion I receive from our fans. I think that whilst the world of sport can capitalise on the entertainment factor, it also needs to react to its fans, as businesses react to consumer feedback. It’s good to give our fans a platform to voice their opinions and suggestions, which otherwise may never get heard.
What have been the three most significant areas of personal development that you have gained through your career?
Personally, I find it really tough to look at myself and appreciate just how far I’ve come since I was just a graduate a few years back – I’m my biggest critic and I always see room for improvement. That being said, I’d say that I’ve definitely learned to be pretty thick-skinned, I’ve had knock-backs and bad days which have been very testing of my character, but I’d like to think that I bounced back somewhat stronger (as cliched as that sounds!) I’ve learned to laugh at myself and not take myself too seriously, and I’ve learnt to take the good with the bad.