Ipswich teenager shortlisted for top sports journalism award

Maddie Reader, 16, of Ipswich, has been shortlisted as student football

Maddie Reader, 16, has been shortlisted as student football writer of the year in the Football Writers' Association awards. - Credit: Denise Bradley

A talented Ipswich teenager has been shortlisted for a prestigious football writing competition after penning a feature about her experiences at Portman Road. 

Aspiring sports journalist Maddie Reader, who is a season ticket holder at Ipswich Town FC, was thrilled to learn she had made the Football Writers' Association (FWA) student football writer of the year shortlist.

Maddie, who is only 16, is among university students on the shortlist for the Vikki Orvice award - named after the trailblazing former sports journalist who died in 2019. 

Judges of the prize include a host of renowned sports journalists and broadcasters such as Henry Winter, Alyson Rudd, Paul Hayward, Jacqui Oatley and Jonathan Liew. 

The competition, which has two prizes, had more than 530 entries. 

Maddie Reader, 16, of Ipswich, who has a sight impairment, has been shortlisted as student football

Maddie said she was thrilled to be shortlisted in the competition, which received more than 530 entries - Credit: Denise Bradley

Maddie, who has a visual impairment called Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP), which means she is blind in her left eye, wrote about her positive experiences watching games at Portman Road. 

The Ormiston Endeavour Academy student uses a service for supporters with vision problems called Soccer Sight. 

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The service, which is made available by the club, allows visually impaired fans to listen to descriptive commentary during the games to enhance the experience. 

Maddie said: "It was quite a surprise, I didn't think that I would be shortlisted. The majority of the other people shortlisted are university students doing sports journalism degrees and internships at football clubs. 

"I just thought that it was something a bit different to write about. They said you could do match reports or an opinion piece but I just thought I'd do it about my vision.

"My teachers at school are really excited and really happy for me."

Maddie Reader, 16, of Ipswich, has been shortlisted in the Football Writers' Association awards

Maddie wrote about her experiences watching football matches at Portman Road through a service called Soccer Sight - Credit: Denise Bradley

Maddie added that she is hopeful the season ahead will bring success for the Tractor Boys. 

"Hopefully with all the investment we'll get promoted," she said. 

Maddie's proud dad, Neil Reader, said: "She just took it upon herself to write it.

"She was thinking of ideas and she came back with that, about her feelings towards it, which is great."

The winners of the two awards will receive the five shortlisted titles in the FWA Football Book of the Year Award, free membership of the FWA for a year, an opportunity for work experience, plus the chance to benefit from mentoring from a member of the judging panel.

There will also be a £500 prize for both award winners.

The winners will be announced on Tuesday.