Our Industry Insider series returns once again and this time we’re getting to know Daniyal Khan, freelance presenter for Arsenal Football Club!
Tell us about yourself, what is your current role and what roles have you done previously?
I’m Daniyal Khan, 28 years old and during lockdown I became a freelance presenter for Arsenal Football Club. I also run a creative platform called Urban Panda which expresses my interests in music, football and culture through events, clothing and content.
What do you do in your current role?
I interview Arsenal men’s and women’s team players for an original show called “The World Cup Of Everything.” on Arsenals Youtube. I also co host a range of programmes on arsenals twitch channel and record short films for the club including charity initiatives, and most recently, having fans back at the emirates.
What does a normal week look like for you?
Apart from meetings, calls and activations to push Urban Panda, I get my schedule for the week from Arsenal for streams and interviews that are upcoming. The content plans at arsenal can change very quickly depending on what’s happening at the club but I prepare for each interview and stream ahead of time and then let the magic happen when it’s time.
How did you end up where you are right now? When did you know you wanted to work in sport?
My earliest memory with regards to working in sports was writing the following on a piece of paper when I was around 9/10 years old “Good evening to everyone around the world, my name is Daniyal Khan and this is the FIFA World Cup Final.” Before I knew what presenting what, I was obsessed with calling the action and adding words to what I was watching to elevate the moment. I guess this came from my early love for wrestling, where all the iconic moments were capped off by incredible play by play commentary that immortalised the visuals.
It was a long road to get where I am that relied heavily on 8-9 years of networking, and building relationships with like minded individuals.
In between being at University and building Urban Panda, I was helping my dad with his dreams of building a family business. This mixed with a tinge of imposter syndrome probably stopped me from jumping in head first in to the world of content creation, but i’d always had a dream to pursue a career in presenting, and as a result I was able to build a creative network of people in music, fashion and sport through Urban Panda, which helped me land my role at Arsenal.
What is your number one focus when it comes to your work?
It varies depending on the content I am making with Arsenal.
For the “World Cup Of Everything” series, I know people will be tuning in for the players, so my role is to make the players as comfortable as possible, create a good atmosphere and help them relax. If I can do that, then the video will be a success. I also carry through my genuine personality and try and behave as if I am chilling with friends, so that the content can give off a competent different energy to classic broadcaster content where players use their media training to get by
For the weekly twitch streams, we have a young, engaged and unpredictable audience. My aim is to strike a balance between professional presenting, and also giving the audience a feel that they’re tuning in to two mates having a chat with no cameras around. There’s a basic script which helps the direction of the show, but we are in charge of taking the show where we want, and we’re allowed to push the boundaries a bit which helps us make entertaining content consistently. The professional aspect comes in with my introductions, my outros, and my research of teams, players, tactics and events surrounding our upcoming games. The analysis I give helps make the show insightful rather than just entertaining.
What’s been your favourite moment whilst working in sports?
That would be the first time I got the call to present the “World Cup of Everything” show.
I was out shopping and received a call from someone I’d known for years who recognised my talent and knew me well. They’d recently joined Arsenal and wanted to lead a fresh approach with the content, and they asked If I was available to interview some players at the Emirates tomorrow.
I was interviewing Reiss Nelson and Joe Willock together, and then interviewing my favourite player at the club, Mesut Özil.
I am forever grateful that this person was brave enough to take a chance on me despite me having no tangible experience to show, they said “I haven’t got time to show the superiors what you’ve got but I know you’ll smash this.”
It was a huge moment for me and a 24 hours that i’ll never forget.
What do you think is next for your industry?
The doors have been smashed open by influencers and youtube personalities who have shown that there is room for personable, fun content that brings the best out of players.
I like to think that in light of what’s been happening with taking the knee, the ESL, and covid that football media recognised the power of people, and that above football, are the people’s values and beliefs, I think connecting with these values and beliefs through content will be what’s to come in the future. Real stories, for real fans, told by real people.
In your area of work, what is something you feel most people don’t talk about enough or focus on enough?
It’s a double edged sword. The influencers and youtubers that smashed open the doors and made this all possible are also the ones that have created a culture of quick, viral videos that are much more focused on entertainment than the power of football . I feel like the stories that live beyond 90 mins, and beyond players need focusing on. The power of football, how it shapes communities, how different cultures, nationalities and religions are bought together by football, and how many people use football as a vehicle for incredible change.
The fun videos are incredible because they give you a chance to see players in a completely different light. But I think there should be focus on culture and community too. Thomas Partey has signed for Arsenal. One of Arsenals main hosts is a proud Ghanaian, why not put them together, and allow the host to show a fellow countryman the amazing culture that Ghana has bought to London – Why not sit them down and talk about what it means to be Ghanaian and playing for Arsenal over a plate of Jollof. That content would be golden.
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to work in the sports industry?
Content – Network – Patience
Create your own content and do not worry about the size of your audience and the size of your production budget. Work within your means and create consistent content that means something to you, when an opportunity comes up, you’ll find that without knowing it, you’ve created your own digital CV where people can see you in action!
Network with like minded people, and people you’d like to work with, think of your favourite channels, your favourite presenters or your favourite styles of content and message the people in a respectful way, ask them for advice, ask them if there are any shadowing opportunities or just let me know you love what they do! It’s not about the 1000s rejections – it’s about that 1 yes that can lead to something great.
Patience is key, you’ll go through self doubt, you’ll watch videos and go “why not me?” you’ll wonder if the time you spend doing these things is worth it, but consistency will get you there and when it does, you’ll be ready to take the opportunity
How to follow Daniyal Khan on social media…
Thanks for reading our Industry Insider with Daniyal Khan! You can read more from the series by clicking here.