My Story: telling stories with photos, getting the message across and using football for development has increasingly been the thing I’ve concentrated my energies on, both in work and outside of it over the last 20 years. So I thought I’d share some of the steps that have got me here today. And I hope at the same time show why I’m the right person to collaborate with you on publicising your projects.
My Story begins in 1993-94, training as a journalist with the NCTJ, after spending a year in Liberia in 1992, working with underprivileged kids. I worked on a local paper – the Shields Gazette – before getting a job in the press office of CAFOD in 1996, the year Newcastle United should have won the league.
I’ve worked on and off at CAFOD from 1996 to 2013, full-time and part-time. I covered stories in Liberia – my second home! – and also Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, El Salvador, Honduras and Colombia. I became fluent in Spanish at University, so could interview people in Latin America pretty easily. (And I managed to use my intermediate French in Rwanda and Congo with only minor risk of triggering an international incident…)
I worked on a six-week journalism project in Ethiopia in 2009 with former street-children and led two groups of youth workers to Liberia in 2010 and 2011.
I’ve run Naughton Media my own PR business in North East England for non-profit organisations since 2005, and just revamped it recently to get more focus on football and development.
Some of my Football and Development highlights:
– 1997: I first met Millennium Stars – a grassroots team of former streetkids, ex-child soldiers and war-affected youth – who I have been involved with ever since. I proposed to my employer CAFOD a tour for Millennium Stars in 1999 and my media strategy achieved 69 separate hits in three weeks and won the 2000 One World Media Award for ‘Best Information Campaign by an NGO’.
– 1999: The Millennium Stars tour was a significant early example in the history of Sport and Development, taking place more than six years before the United Nations launched their Year of Sport and Physical Education in 2005. Unfortunately (for me) CAFOD opted not to pursue Sport and Development as a major theme afterwards, although I still pursued opportunities to highlight examples that came up in CAFOD’s work, such as a league for girls and young women on wasteground reclaimed from drug traffickers in Bogotá, Colombia (2001).
– 2006: DEEEP Summer School on Sport and Development that coincided with the World Cup in Germany. I have also delivered sessions on Sport, Development and Media on two occasions at the annual conference run by Fotbal pro Rozvoj (Football for Development) in Prague in 2007 and 2011.
– 2006-09: I worked on a voluntary project to organise an International Football Tournament in my home town of Consett. (See Consett the World.)
– 2009-11: Masters Degree in Globalisation, Poverty and Development at Newcastle University. I wrote my dissertation on Football and Peace-Building in Liberia, using Millennium Stars FC to provide a case study.
– April 2012: Sport, Conflict and Reconciliation conference at the Archbishop Desmond Tutu Centre for War and Peace Studies, Liverpool Hope University in April 2012, just prior to the Olympics. I delivered a paper on dissertation findings. Afterwards, I submitted an abstract for an article on this subject to them for a dedicated issue of the academic journal Politics.
– 2013 onwards: Regular blogging and articles on Sport and development every month or so. Published an article on Millennium Stars and Masculinity in the 21st Century in a blog for online photo agency Proexposure, and another about Codes of Conduct in Grassroots Football on sportanddev.com as well as continuing to blog on this site and for The Good Men Project among others.
– April 2016 to present: Got a job in Liberia as Communications Officer for school-feeding charity Mary’s Meals. Loving it!
Still waiting for Newcastle United to win the League. Or the Cup. Or anything really…