From geology to journalism, Hamza Ait Messaoud hit the number one spot with a documentary that proved doubters wrong
Hamza Ait Messaoud quoted Jonh F. Kennedy in his speech at the AIPS Sport Media Awards ceremony in Budapest on February 3rd, 2020 (AIPS Media)
LAUSANNE, February 20, 2020 - Hamza Ait Messaoud will never forget the past months. It was the first time he shot a documentary, the first time he participated in the AIPS Sport Media Awards and he became the first winner of the Young Reporter Broadcasting category. Messaoud is the first Moroccan, the first African and the first Arabic speaking who wins a trophy. Now, he prepares to cover his first UEFA Champions League final in Istanbul, the prize that was announced during the gala in Budapest. It was, of course, the first time he spoke in front of 200 notable guests and his acceptance speech will be remembered as the first one that quoted John F. Kennedy.
"I truly didn’t live before an amazing night like this. As one my cousins said “this night is better than you wedding night” indeed it was!,” says Messaoud, still excited. "This brings back very good memories despite it just happened a few days ago. At the ceremony I was telling myself repeatedly 'being here is a win itself for me, it doesn’t matter if I win.' I was just doing a work that is done by pure passion and devotion so as a young person like me coming from Morocco, Africa”.
But when his name was announced by presenter Jonathan Edwards, Messaoud couldn’t hide his emotions. “It was a blackout for me, I didn’t remember much except how amazed I was feeling. I will never forget this moment because this has given me a huge push to work even further in journalism,” says the 29 years-old Moroccan.
THE SUBMISSION "Sports management - clubs In Morocco: A reality of three degrees" is an in-depth documentary covering three different approaches regarding Morocco’s football situation. Why do football management systems differ in moroccan football clubs? How does the royal moroccan football federation manage the football scene with the professional league clubs? Is the financial factor the biggest influence in the football sector? To approach these quarries, a team composed of three journalists had a “near investigative” experience and produced a documentary that was granted the first prize in Broadcasting, the category reserved for audio and video submissions for those under 30 years of age. He faced and overcame several problems to transform his graduation project into an award-winning documentary. Not bad for someone who had started his early 20s with geology as horizon. “I grew up studying geology because my family pressured me to do so, but I ended up switching to journalism because I don’t see myself doing anything outside journalism. When I was in elementary school I was intrigued by sport magazines, photos on the newspaper and the sport presenters on TV channels and I wanted to be like them,” he says.
-How did you embrace the sport media excellence that the AIPS Sport Media Awards propose?
-What first comes to mind when I talk about difficulties is the negative reaction people around me showed. This was my first documentary ever and it was also my university graduation project and a lot of people let me down by saying “Chill Hamza, it’s just a graduation project! You don’t have to do a lot of research and just accept the people that is available for interviews”. They didn’t believe that what I’m doing is a big thing, and I pressured myself to interview big names in sports.
-How difficult it was to face this pressure?
-I failed countless times to get some administrators and some football clubs presidents so I had plan “B” and “C” to finally get to the people you saw in my documentary, a lot of people didn’t believe that what we were doing is something big for the Moroccan football. As for the financial side, as you saw this is not a big production; so we had lack of money issues. But at the end, we think that this what makes our documentary special, we didn’t need much money to reveal the truth.
A frame from Hamza's awarded documentary
-And then you decided to submit it to the AIPS Sport Media Awards. What inspired you?
-There are many reasons that pushed me to submit such project, one of them is that the method of choosing the winners in AIPS Awards is very clear and transparent platform. Also, this platform is composed from so many high caliber names in the sport media field with of course AIPS name on top, but what’s very encouraging is that all journalists get to compete equally within the same category, the fact that there’s no difference between a work done by freelancer and a work done by a big media company because the quality of the work is the only thing judged.
Messaoud wants this memory to be the first out of many exciting news in journalism. As he reckons, "I am very thankful for everything that I’ve been through during this journey, and even if I won this trophy it doesn’t mean I will stop there, as the first African, first Arabic and the first Moroccan who had the honor to have such award; I can say with confidence this is only the beginning of something new…".