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Meet two stars of the future

No, we are not talking about the next Lionel Messi, but watch out for CHRIS SMITH and MARCUS BANKS, from Liverpool, who are on course for careers as sports journalists after winning the top prizes in Total Football's 2012 Contributor Awards - sponsored by CHANG BEER.

Chris scooped the main award, while 14-year-old Marcus won our Young Contributor Award.

Chris joined Total Football's internship programme, while Marcus responded to Total Football's invitation for budding sports journalists to get in touch.

Chris has completed his NCTJ journalism training and has written for other websites.

By coincidence, Chris and Marcus are cousins. Must be something in the family genes.

Since joining the Total Football team, Chris and Marcus have impressed with their writing skill and creativity and their positive attitude, enthusiasm and work ethic. Chris and Marcus have also contributed as website editors.

Courtesy of Total Football Contributor Award sponsors Chang Beer, Chris and Marcus (pictured) won two VIP tickets each to see Everton's FA Cup clash with Blackpool.

In addition, Chris was in the press box and attended the post-match press conference at the Reading v Portsmouth Championship fixture.

Chris and Marcus were also invited by Bury FC to spend the day at Gigg Lane, to attend the club's weekly press day with the manager and players and assist with updating the club's official website. Our two winners were also invited by Bury to watch a home game from the press box, then to compile the official match report for that game (which was published on the club's website later that evening), and to attend the post match interviews with the manager and players.

Chris will also attend the forthcoming Total Football Show at the Toryglen Centre in Glasgow in July as Total Football's event reporter, and has won a copy of Brentford goalkeeper Richard Lee's book, Graduation.

Head start

Total Football's internships and Contributor Awards were introduced by Total Football editor Mark Roach as a way to help give budding sports journalists a head start, by giving them experience, by-lines, feedback, advice and support. 

"I started out where Chris and Marcus are now," said Mark. "I was lucky enough to have an opportunity to contribute some match reports to my local newspaper, the Maidenhead Advertiser, who then gave me my first job as a sports journalist in 1989.

"I'm happy to help anyone who wants to have a career as a sports journalist and shows the same sort of positive attitude and enthusiasm that Chris and Marcus have.

"I've had a fantastic career as a sports journalist and I hope Chris and Marcus will have an opportunity to do the same. Chris has been an outstanding contributor, both as a writer and editor, and Marcus has shown a maturity beyond his years.

"One of his big successes has been 'Total Football Scout', where Marcus assesses the potential of some of the best young players around the world. Marcus came up with this idea and put a proposal to me for a series of Total Football Scout features and this has been a great success.

"With their positive attitude and enthusiasm I am sure Chris and Marcus will go far as sports journalists."

Chris, who is now actively looking for a role as a sports journalist, said: "Working under Mark’s editorship at Total Football has been fantastic for me and I am delighted to have won the Total Football Contributor Award.

"Sharing the benefits of Mark's expertise and experience, he has helped transform me from someone who flirted with the idea of becoming a sports writer to someone who feels fully capable in that role.

'Valuable experience'

"I have written for other online magazines before, but I knew immediately that I would develop more under Mark. That has proved to be the case. His professionalism has influenced me to work tirelessly on my work and to strive to improve with every task.

"I have felt from the start that he trusts me and values my input, and that in turn has inspired me to push myself and create more interesting articles. Mark has given me the confidence and valuable experience that is essential if I am to succeed in this industry."

And, as an Everton fan, Chris enjoyed his day at Goodison Park.

"From start to finish, the VIP experience at Goodison Park was fantastic, and being 2-0 up after six minutes didn't hurt either. Prizes like this really teach you the benefit of plugging away and working hard. Alone, this would have been a great prize but with the visits to the media centres at Bury and Reading the prize was even better."

Marcus added: "Despite being a Liverpool fan, I had the best time at Goodison watching Everton beat Blackpool 2-0. I was very grateful for the opportunity to sit in the Chang Beer executive box and enjoy the fantastic hospitality and service. We had a wonderful three course meal before watching the match and I was able to meet and take a picture with some players which was a bonus.

"I hope to continue writing well for Total Football and I am totally committed to the website. I am grateful to Mark for giving me the opportunity to strive towards achieving my journalism potential."

Do YOU think you have what it takes to become a sports journalist?

Total Football is always on the lookout for new contributors. If you are interested in getting involved, just send an email to Mark Roach at

Total Football would like to thank Chang Beer for their kind sponsorship of the Total Football 2012 Contributor Awards.

And, if you are old enough to drink it, delicious, crisp and wonderfully refreshing Chang Beer is the perfect drink to enjoy during the Premier League season. Made with the finest quality malt, hops and deep well water Chang Beer has a unique balanced flavour of smoked, peaty, sweet green apples and vanilla. For more information, please visit: or follow Chang Beer on Twitter for the latest news and giveaways @ChangBeerUK

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