Champions League ties in full after redraw fiascoIt's fair to say that it has been a hectic last year or so for Richmond-born TV presenter Seema Ja
Champions League ties in full after redraw fiasco
It’s fair to say that it has been a hectic last year or so for Richmond-born TV presenter Seema Jaswal. The 37-year-old jokes that she has recently completed the ‘Quadruple’ of broadcasting, having hosted coverage of the Premier League, FA Cup, international football and the Champions League all within the space of just 12 months.
But it is with the latter where her attentions are focused this week thanks to the return of Europe’s elite club competition to our screens tonight.
Jaswal is on duty for the mouthwatering last-16 clash between PSG and Real Madrid, and speaking exclusively to Express Sport she could barely contain her excitement.
“I am absolutely buzzing,” she says. “Everyone I’ve spoken to at BT who has worked on the Champions League in previous seasons always tells me just how much of a spark there is in the air at the knockout stages, so I just can’t wait. PSG vs Real Madrid is certainly not a bad way to kick things off either!”
Jaswal always harboured ambitions of working on the Champions League, and her dream came true when she was offered the opportunity by BT at the start of the season.
She adds: “It was definitely one on the tick-list. I always loved watching it as a fan with my husband, my father and a takeaway, but little did I know that three would soon become two.
Seema Jaswal presents Champions League football for BT Sport
“We actually bought my dad a TV recently and I left a post-it note which read ‘Sorry I won’t be with you this season, but at least you’ll be able to watch me on the telly’. It was a lovely and very surreal moment.
“The team at BT Sport are amazing both on and off the camera and these are the moments you live for as a presenter. When that final whistle blows and it’s my time to capture the moment and put into words some of the biggest games in football, it doesn’t get better than that.”
Jaswal’s vast and varied experience means that she has worked with many of the best-known pundits from around the world.
But she gives a special shout-out to one who she says will forever leave her in hysterics.
“I’ve never worked with a bad pundit. They’ve all been gems and really supportive. But there is one I have to give a special mention to – and it’s Tim Sherwood.
“He just has me in stitches, and always has everyone on the floor laughing. He’s a great one to have in the studio and is so much fun. He’d be perfect to play golf and go to the pub with.
“Jake Humphrey welcomed me with open arms at BT off camera, and then on camera gave me such a nice introduction. But genuinely, everyone in the industry is lovely from my experience.”
Jaswal is as engaging and charismatic in our interview as she comes across on TV, and she is just one of a high number of talented female presenters who have shot to prominence in recent years.
“I have to give credit to those who came before me who paved the way for our generation, like Hazel Irvine, Clare Balding and Gabby Logan,” she adds. “I really hope that I can do the same. It is now totally normal for me to work with women on and off camera, which wasn’t always the case. What’s even more exciting is that there is loads of new talent coming through too.
Jaswal at the National Television Awards last year
“I get so many messages on social media, not just from females who want to break into the industry, but from their parents as well asking all sorts of questions, which is brilliant.”
Unfortunately, there is still undeniably an issue when it comes to sexism online, and talkSPORT and Sky Sports’ Laura Woods recently bravely opened up about her experiences with vile internet trolls.
“It saddens me so deeply when I hear that female colleagues are getting this sort of abuse on social media,” Jaswal says. “It’s wrong, it’s upsetting, and in an industry which is already full of so much pressure it is just not healthy.
“I’m a firm believer that social media companies have to take responsibility and remove the cloak of invisibility so that people can be named and shamed for their actions. I think education is the solution, keeping people talking about it, and I feel we are all equally responsible for that.
“In terms of my own experiences, I have received a few comments here or there but thankfully nothing to a great extent. But we do need to put in more effort to eradicate it.”
So, what does the future hold for Jaswal? A spot on Match of the Day to replace Gary Lineker, perhaps?
“I’ll give you the commision if you sort that out!” she jokes. “In terms of moving forward, hosting a major tournament final is what you live for and aspire to as a presenter. Away from sport I would love to do a quiz or chat show. Sometimes the industry is a bit guilty of boxing people, and I think you can do whatever you want within broadcasting if you put your mind to it.”
She also has plenty of words of wisdom for those hoping to fill her shoes one day.
Laura Woods has spoken about her experiences with online trolls
“You need hard work, a lot of sacrifice and stamina. If you have those three things you’re off to a good start. You have a lot of responsibility to deliver for people who may have been waiting all week to watch their team, so you need to do your research well.
“There is also huge value in having good people around you, and it’s important to build up a network you can trust.
“Above all: be kind. I went from a runner to presenting along with some people I originally worked for, so you have to remember your paths could cross again with anyone one day.
“But you have to enjoy it. Yes, there’s pressure and you will get nervous at times, but if you have a good show everyone does. That makes all the difference.”
The Champions League is live on BT Sport on Tuesday and Wednesday, with coverage starting from 7.15pm.