For the first time in 36 years, the Canadian men’s national soccer finally returns to the FIFA World Cup next month and an emerging journalist from Abbotsford is going along for the historic ride.
Emmy Curtis, a 2020 Yale Secondary grad, has been hired by FIFA as the media operations team leader at Qatar’s Al Thumama Stadium in the capital city of Doha.
It’s a long way from Yale Broadcasting to the largest global sporting event on the planet, but Curtis said it was possible through determination, passion and not being afraid to put yourself out there.
Her rise is also about time management skills, as Curtis is a full-time journalism student at the University of Toronto, freelances at TSN, worked with Canada Soccer and built her TikTok following to over 25,000.
She headed east after graduation to pursue studies in journalism at U of T and get her foot in the door in the country’s biggest sports market. But love of sports was fostered early for Curtis through her mother and father.
“I grew up in a sports family,” she said. “But I was really inspired by my dad’s passion for sports. He kind of took me under his wing when I was little and showed me that both me and my sister [Maggy Curtis] could be athletes.”
But it was that love of sports combined with her training in theatre that really got her thinking about becoming an on-air sports reporter. Curtis said her enthusiasm may have been a bit much for her high school classmates, but she’s found that energy has served her well in the real world.
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“Truthfully - high school just wasn’t for me,” she said, laughing. “I felt like everyone thought of me as loud, getting involved in everything and people just got tired of me. But that comes with putting yourself out there and it’s the same thing you sometimes get today through social media.”
Curtis said she loves the fact that she can share her journey online and added she’s received messages from younger girls who say she has inspired them to pursue sports.
Her go-getter attitude has paid off big time since moving to Toronto and it all came from taking a volunteer opportunity with Soccer Canada. She noticed on social media that Toronto was hosting several World Cup qualifying matches for Soccer Canada and sent them a direct message.
“I originally reached out on LinkedIn and got no answer so I actually ended up sending Soccer Canada a DM on Instagram explaining that I’m a student and would love to volunteer and they replied right away,” she said. “They put me in the broadcast booth and that was my first opportunity to work and network with Soccer Canada officials and broadcast media people.”
It was through the Soccer Canada experience that Curtis worked her way into a role at TSN. She said during one of the soccer games she began chatting with a broadcaster and through that connection another opportunity was created.
“I basically told him I was a student looking for internships and explained that there was nothing posted on their website,” she said. “I said if they have anything I’d love to apply and that’s how I got started with TSN.”
Her role with TSN began as a summer internship, but she has now been hired as a freelance talent. She works on the popular SportsCentre show, puts highlight packages together and writes script for the show.
“It’s so fun to watch sports for a living,” she said, laughing. “But I kind of went into the TSN role with no previous work in production and it was a little scary starting from square one. But I’ve had such an incredible team of support around me and everyone in the office is awesome. It was an intense training program, but they threw you into the fire and you thrive.”
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Curtis then kept in contact with Soccer Canada and kept asking for more opportunities when the FIFA World Cup presented itself. She learned that FIFA was hiring for the Qatar tournament, applied, went through several interviews and eventually earned the job.
While it is not paid, her accommodation, meals and travel is all provided.
“It’s honestly so crazy,” she said. “I’m so thankful and it’s such an exciting opportunity.”
In he role as media operations team leader, Curtis will be leading a team of media volunteers with their tasks for the day. She will be the main point of contact for FIFA media officers and other media for any concerns or questions. Curtis will also help with pre and post game and will lend a hand in the mixed zone where media speak to athletes.
@itsemraine @fifaworldcup see you soon. #WOMENINSPORTS #SPORTS #MEDIA #QATAR2022 #WORLDCUP #MEDIAOPERATIONS #FIFA #WORLDCUPQATAR #QATAR ♬ Qatar 2022 - Rootikal swagger
She leaves in mid-November and will be in Qatar until the end of the tournament in early-December. Curtis noted she hopes to have some free time to see Team Canada compete on the world stage. She said her family has been supportive of her dreams and are excited to see her on such a big stage.
She hopes to inspire other youth in Abbotsford to go after their dreams, adding that her volunteer opportunities with the Abbotsford Pilots and Fraser Valley Bandits were invaluable on her sports reporting journey.
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Curtis, who graduates from college in 2024, hopes to one day be a regular on-camera like one of her idols NFL sportscaster Erin Andrews.
“I’d love to continue with TSN,” she said. “Just getting into the building there and when I have the experience I’d love to be in front of the camera and hold the mic there one day. But the dream is to work in the NFL - the Super Bowl, Fox Sports, ESPN - whoever it is. That’s the big dream. I’m not sure what the future holds but I’m taking the steps I think I need to in order to get there.”
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