Meet Seema Jaswal, currently the host of FanZone and Kick Off for Premier League Productions. She has also reported from the BDO Lakeside Darts World Professional Championships for Channel 4, the Snooker World Championships for BBC2 and regularly presents Motor Sport challenges for Channel 4.
Seema was the lead anchor for Indian Super League (ISL) and host of Let’s Talk Football for Star Sports in Mumbai for the 2015-16 season. ISL reaches over 210 million people across India and is the 3rd most attended football league in the world. In Europe, ISL is broadcast into 171 million homes across 54 countries (on Eurosport); plus 240 million across the rest of the world. Last year, Seema was nominated for the Asian Football Awards 2015 in the Media category. She was also a guest speaker at the World Football Forum in Paris during the UEFA Euro 2016 championships. Seema was previously a regular face on The Wright Stuff for Channel 5 and a regular reporter for CBBC’s MOTD Kickabout. She also hosted The Entertainment Show for Westside Radio, as well as Drivetime and community show The Voice.
Upon finishing her degree in sociology degree at Royal Holloway University, Seema used her passion and talent for sport, more specifically tennis, to become a qualified PTR Tennis coach. She won the Cannons Tennis Tournament in London and represented Richmond Borough in Tennis, Netball, Table Tennis, Hockey, and Athletics. It is this experience and her outstanding and natural presenting skills that led her to be chosen as a BBC Sportsround correspondent, filming various reports around the country. She has also hosted the Table Tennis Test Event for LOCOG, the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games and covered the Women’s Euro 2013 championships for MOTD Kickabout on the CBBC channel.
Seema has also spent some time with the OB crews for This Morning and is a natural on the red carpet. She is fanatical about broadcasting and TV presenting, having worked on the production teams at Sky Sports News and MTV soon after finishing university. She then went on to secure presenting roles at The Independent Music Show, BBC Learning Zone, Glam Asia TV, a documentary for Zee TV as well as hosting the catwalk and live events at Zee Carnival and The Franchise Show for The Business Channel. She was a host at the Asian Woman Awards 2008, was a finalist in the Face of Asia 2009 and also modeled for Asian Woman, Asian Bride, and various Asian fashion magazines. Seema also interviewed Channel 4’s The Family for Brit-Asian iMag.
Can you share your story with us?
Born and raised in West London, most days growing up for me included playing sport, jaffa cakes and home and away- those were the days! I was one of the few that really loved school mainly because sport was such a big part of it and this continued when studying for my A-levels at Richmond College. It was here that I experienced one of the most defining moments of my life. I suffered from bacterial meningitis during my first year at college and spent 2 weeks in hospital…the condition was so severe that part of my time in hospital was spent in a coma.
To the doctor’s surprise, I managed to pull through and actually recovered very quickly. I was told that if it wasn’t for the fact I was so sporty my life could have been very different- many meningitis sufferers quite often end up with a disability or a life-changing health problem. Little did I know that sport would then become the biggest part of my life and go on to define my career as a presenter.
Though you completed your Sociology degree from RHUL you currently present for the Premier League, how did that happen?
After graduating from University I sent my CV to a number of companies in search of a job either in research or marketing. In doing so I realized that I needed my career to be fulfilling and something I enjoyed so I started to think about changing direction and working within the sport- simply because it’s my passion! I was very close to becoming a full-time tennis coach but then decided I’d prefer to keep tennis as my hobby. I sent my CV to Sky Sports and I was offered a job as a Runner. I’ll be honest, I had no idea what a runner was but learned very quickly and before I knew it I was part of the team!
Being a runner is an interesting job as the role varies from day to day. Generally, you’re on hand to help out the team behind the scenes making teas and coffees and grabbing lunches, printing scripts for presenters, helping guests to settle in and being on hand to help. Occasionally you’re thrown into the deep end and asked to help out with shows which opened my eyes to the possibility of Presenting.
I loved my job as a Runner and made an effort with everyone I worked with. In doing so I felt comfortable enough to knock on the door of the boss of Sky Sports News and ask him how I could pursue a career as a Presenter. The advice given was to work in production and work my way up or to get some live presenting experience to get used to handling an audience, talk back and the general pressures that come with hosting a show! So that’s exactly what I did, and as they say the rest in history!
I presented CBBC Sports Round-a show that involved trying out lots of different sports on a weekly basis- my dream first presenting job on telly! I was also an assistant presenter on The Wright Stuff before relocating to India for 18 months to become the face of Indian Football for Star Sports, presenting their flagship Premier League show and the Indian Super League. This was broadcast live to a global audience of 629million viewers which was quite an experience! Whilst I was in India the opportunity to work with the Premier League presented itself so I moved back to London to present two of their flagship shows Kick Off and Fanzone. Outside of the football I present the Mini Challenge motor racing and work as a reporter for the Darts on Channel 4, the World Snooker Championships with the BBC and am also going to be reporting on the UK Snooker Championships with Eurosport at the end of the year.
What’s a typical day like in your life?
I don’t really have a typical work day as every presenting job has its own requirements. With live sport, you never know what’s going to happen so usually, the sport dictates how the day pans out. However, a typical day presenting my studio shows at the Premier League on a Saturday involves; Arriving at work 7:30am and straight into hair and makeup, a natter with the girls is always a great way to start the day! That takes an hour during which my producer will pop in to see me and we discuss any last minute changes or updates to the show.
A cuppa always follows before going into rehearsal. We always watch all of the vts and packages that go out on the show beforehand so we are fully aware of what our audience is seeing and we can react and discuss any key points accordingly. Once we’re live time always whizzes by and after the show like any football team, we have our cool down and chat in the dressing room about how it all went! The games kick off and I watch all of the matches with the team in the green room over the course of the day—picture 8 screens on the wall with all the different matches being shown- it really is the perfect way to spend a Saturday for any football fan! It’s important to be across all of the talking points from the games and I take notes that may be useful. Once all the games are over, it’s the time to get ready for Fanzone- a show where fans from all over the world call in to discuss their team’s performance. An hour later when the show is done, my heels are off and slippers come on before jumping into the car to head home!
What are the common challenges you face working in the sports industry?
I think every job and industry comes with its own challenges and quite often they’re actually all the same. Be it competition for places, the challenge of having to improve yourself or simply balancing and managing lots of variables and once you’re there owning your space and retaining it!
There were a few moments when I was presenting the Indian Super League for Star Sports out in India that were extremely challenging! I was hosting a live match and I was in the middle of the pre-show build up when I was fed the news in my ear that the floodlights had gone down at the stadium so there was no light. The match, therefore, had to be delayed which meant that I had to fill that time on air. I ended up having to fill for 40 minutes!! My producer was new so he panicked not really knowing what to do so I really was left to my own device! I had 2 brilliant experts with me so we had to chat and fill the time. A huge challenge but a great learning experience which taught me to always fully prepare- anything can happen on live TV!
Presenting sport comes with great responsibility as you have to feed the passion of the fans by delivering content that’s engaging, interesting and informative. This means that keeping up to date with the latest stories and knowing your subject well is imperative as you never want to get caught out.
Three best pieces of advice you could give someone?
1.Be nice to people on your way up because you’ll meet them on your way down!
2.Giving back and doing more than is expected of you never goes unnoticed.
3.Love what you do, if you don’t you’ll get found out.
If you could travel back in time what would you do again?
Every single holiday I’ve ever been on!
What has been the winning moment of your career trajectory?
One of my biggest achievements is my latest venture which was hosting the FIFA U17 World Cup to 25million viewers. The tournament hit record attendances in stadiums a record number of goals were scored making it the most exciting tournament for this age group to-date and to top it all off England went on to win it! I really enjoyed seeing the tournament through from start to finish and it was an honour to host India’s first ever FIFA event.
My role with the Premier League has to have been my winning moment and a position I’m really proud of. In ten years I’ve gone from being a Runner to presenting Premier League football to an audience of 750 million people globally- A truly mind-boggling experience and one that certainly marks a huge milestone in my career!
Lastly, what would you tell your 18-year-old self?
Work hard, play hard, but always be the best you can be and do it with a smile.
Twitter: @meseemajaswal | Instagram: @meseemajaswal