Leading Welsh athletes Sam Gordon and Jenny Nesbitt are two of seven Welsh sports men and women to star in a new documentary that will showcase the riches at Cardiff Met.
Called “Transatlantic Storytelling”, the film is a snapshot of Welsh sport told through the eyes of the renowned Welsh university’s most successful sports stars and is a collaboration between Met students and those at a partner American university.
Gordon, Wales’ fastest sprinter and 5,000m Olympic hopeful Nesbitt both figure in the documentary, alongside Paralympian word record holder Harrison Walsh, football coach Christian Edwards, Wales netballer Lydia Hitchings, cricketer Sam Pearce and triathlete Will Godwin, who, perhaps, has the most extraordinary personal story of all.
Godwin tells of a freak accident when he was hit by a car when out training on his bike, followed by a heart attack a year later suffered when he was on a rowing machine.
Determination and perseverance is the theme that runs through Godwin’s story, as well as those of others, in the 60-minute film which is due to be released on June 30th.
But the stories – filmed and edited by visiting students of Ball State University in Indiana – also tell of the central role sport plays in Welsh culture and identity.
Nesbitt, a Welsh Commonwealth Games finalist and Great Britain international, was keen to be part of the film for personal reasons.
“I was approached at the end of last year and asked if I’d like to be involved and it sounded a great project to be part of,” she says.
“I went through a few issues in my childhood and I wanted to use this platform as a way, perhaps, to tell my story and perhaps inspire other young athletes.
“I think the American students making the film were here in Wales in the one week between all the flooding we had and then the lockdown, so it’s an impressive achievement and I’m looking forward to seeing the finished film.”
The film, which will go out on American sports channel ESPN+ later this year, is part of a partnership between students of Cardiff Met’s sports broadcast department and Bale State’s sports link programme.
Both universities use the top level sport on their own doorstep as the raw material for the aspiring sports film-makers, editors, reporters, camera crews and commentators of tomorrow.
“What I love about this project” says Joe Towns, who heads up the sport broadcast course at Cardiff Met, “is that at a time when the world is so divided, it’s things like sport and storytelling that can still unite us.
“Our American friends knew little about cricket or netball, but they soon recognised the skill and the passion, the team camaraderie. We were also able to provide them with unbelievable access to our athletes, which they don’t always get in America as college sport is such big business.
“We were also able to find them stories about local athletes with global ambitions – wannabe Olympians and Paralympians, student footballers who had made it into Europe’s top competition, Wales’ fastest man. They were blown away by the range and quality of stories they found on our campus.”
Towns, a former sports producer at both Sky Sports and the BBC, believes the American touch has sprinkled some stardust on the likes of Gordon and Nesbitt and can project them to a global audience when the film has its digital airing on Facebook, Twitter the official website on June 30.
“Ball State’s Sports Link programme is the number one ranked sports media production course in the USA. That’s why we wanted to partner with them.
“University sports in the UK has so much to learn from American college sports, especially in terms of marketing and promotion. In this documentary they have given our Cardiff Met sports stories some of that American sparkle – a bit of razzle dazzle.
— Cardiff Met Sport (@CMetSport) June 24, 2020
“Ever since the Michael Jordan documentary aired on Netflix this year everyone is hooked on long form sports storytelling. It’s an art form and that’s an area where the Ball State guys have really enlightened and educated us.”
The feature-length documentary is presented in a style familiar to many fans of the ESPN 30 for 30 series, says Chris Taylor, senior director of digital sports production in Ball State’s College of Communication, Information, and Media.
“This is the result of a multi-year process than brought our two universities together,” he says.
“In fact, we have the only digital sports media program in the U.S., and Cardiff is the only one in the U.K. It’s a natural partnership.”
“After months of preparation, including online skype meetings between students, we took our student group to Cardiff.
“We were on the ground for a solid 12 days, shooting interviews and capturing footage. It was an intense, rewarding opportunity that allowed our students to get incredible experiences learning on the fly. They had one shot to do the interviews. It wasn’t like we could easily go back.”
For more information, go to: https://transatlanticstorytelling.com/