Vik Tidmarsh

Job title Operations Director

Employer Hatch

Can I Play? Founder Vik Tidmarsh talks about her own career in the sports industry

can i play

Vik has launched Can I Play?, a platform dedicated to shining a light on opportunities for women in sport, to help equip, enable and empower women to overcome obstacles in pursuit of their dream career. Although progress is being made, there are still 3x as many men working in full time roles in sport and fitness than women. Vik feels that women, especially during key decision-making moments in their education, lack awareness, role models and encouragement to pursue a career in the sports industry. Her goal is to help change that. She wants women to stop asking, and start winning! 

Vik has a decade of experience working in PR, social media and sponsorship activation with sporting brands and organisations. 

Despite enjoying a positive career to date, she’s directly experienced the lack of women working across the sports industry and it’s something she wants to help change from the ground up, looking at the education process, female mindset and lack of relevant role models.

In an interview with Careers in Sport, Vik tells us about her own career in the sports industry and what her and Can I Play? Podcast co-host, Emma Jones, are trying to achieve with the Can I Play? platform.

Can you tell us about your current role? 

My current role sees me covering a number of responsibilities, primarily internal and client processes. However, I also lead on sport activity – PR, sponsorship activation, content, events – which has allowed me to work with brands and organisations such as The FA, The EFL, The Hundred and Leeds United to name a few over the last few years.

What are your main responsibilities?

From a client perspective, my role is to ensure activity produces results for a client, and profit for us. Whether it’s a campaign for a club or organisation directly, or the activation of a partnership, everything comes down to whether we made enough noise, engaged with fans and consumers, and drove commercial value. Our team of 40 people is made up of PR bodies, social media experts, video producers and event specialists, and it’s my role to get the best out of all of them all to deliver the award-winning work we create on a daily basis.

What is a typical week in terms of how you break down your time?

Every day, week and month are different, and that’s why I love it. One week we might be launching a campaign about women’s football, the next we’ve got Premier League players in our kitchen studio baking cookies, and the next we’re kicking off a summer of cricket. A lot of my week is centred on organisation and making sure everything’s running smoothly, producing results and keeping brands happy, as well as a new business focus, creating exciting and inspiring pitch proposals for potential new clients.

Tell us a bit about your career path to this point and key tips for career progression

I’ve participated in sports of all kinds since I could walk, so it was inevitable that I’d end up working in the industry. My first foray into sport was around age 15 when working for my Grandfather’s PR agency, who handled the PR for the then-owners of Hull City. After university, where I studied Journalism (taking every sport-related module available), I took as many freelance opportunities as I possibly could and wrote content for blogs, both my own and third-party. For the last 8 years I’ve worked in agencies that have had sports clients on their books, from organisations and charities, to gambling brands and clothing outlets.

My advice is to give yourself every opportunity to progress in the early years of your career. Take the opportunities, proactively offer your freelance services, do free work where it’s worthwhile, make contacts and set yourself apart from the rest. Degrees and CVs only go so far, more often than not we hire people based on their desire and determination, and how much effort they’ve put in to improve their skills.

What skills and knowledge are important in your role?

Nothing that can’t be learned. I’m not selling myself short as my role takes a lot of commitment and hard work, but if you’ve got that in you then you’re off to a good start. Primarily, organisation and eye for detail, creativity and an understanding of what will please the media as well as fans. You need to be able to write well and bring ideas to life, but a lot of that comes with practice.

What opportunities are there in the sports media/PR industry for young people?

So many! The industry is booming right now and we’re always on the lookout for the next PR, social media or content superstar. Clubs and organisations are doing everything they can to capture the attention of consumers, and people like us are the ones they turn to. There’s also incredible room for growth and to find your own niche; we love it when people can bring something new to the table, like a skill, idea or even just a fresh perspective.

What do you look for in applicants looking for a job? What makes people stand out?

Proof that you have gone above and beyond to make yourself as hireable as possible is a big step. Don’t leave school or university and just expect to be hired based on your qualifications – think how many people are sending out the exact same CV. What are you going to show me that’s unexpected or exciting? Have you taught yourself how to use Photoshop? Started a podcast? Sent me a creative application/CV that’s relevant to my industry? Jobs in PR and social rely on people bringing their best creative selves to the table, and that shout start from first contact.

What advice would you tell young students with an interest in sport and keen to pursue a career in sport?

Go for it, because if you really love sport there is nothing better than being a part of it, even in a small capacity. I feel incredibly lucky to have experienced the things I have, but don’t be fooled – it’s hard work! Sport moves fast, you have to move faster. Get as much experience as you can, start making contacts early, use your free time to find ways to stand out from the crowd, and have passion. That’s what it’s all about.

What was the best advice you were given?

It’s not necessarily a single piece of advice, but as my biggest fan my mum has always backed me in every decision I’ve made. She’s always told me that whatever I believed was the right thing to do, I should go for it. So, that’s what I’ve done.

3 great things about working in your industry

  1. Being a part of some of the biggest sporting events and moments
  2. Working on campaigns that make an impact (there’s nothing cooler than friends and family sharing something they’ve seen on social media and knowing you were behind it!)
  3. The variety. There’s no way you could ever get bored working in sports PR

3 challenging things about working in your industry

  1. The pace. Things often need to happen very quickly and while I enjoy it, it can sometimes be a little overwhelming if you’re not used to it
  2. The red tape. Sometimes you can have what you think is an incredible idea, but there’s a reason it can’t go ahead because of rules and regulations, which can be a little frustrating
  3. I love working with the media, but it is a challenge. Often, they’re very stretched and just don’t have the capacity to cover your story, no matter how good it is. Or perhaps they’ve fulfilled their quota on a certain topic that month so they pass. Ultimately, everything has to align perfectly and making sure you have strong contacts can be the make or break on a campaign.

Can you tell us why you and Emma are launching Can I Play?

Both Emma and I have years of experience working in sport in one form or another. We’ve both experienced barriers, opportunities we’ve turned down through fear and doubt, dealt with things that would deter women from careers in sport, but the key thing was a realisation that we both lacked role models and someone to aspire to be during key stages of the education and career decision-making phases. We hope that by sharing our experiences and guidance, alongside some of the women doing incredible things in the industry, it may encourage the next generation to go for their goals. 

We’re not putting ourselves under any pressure to change the world overnight, but if our actions can empower and inspire even a handful of girls and women to overcome the barriers and pursue their dream career then we’ve succeeded. This isn’t about us, this is about being proactive and facilitating the changes needed to see improvements across the industry for the next generation in particular. 

For more information on Can I Play? Visit their website


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