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Meeting Ronaldo, crafting inspiring stories: Sports lover lands dream job
As a football fan since his youth, Mr Deepanraj Ganesan gets to cover the sport and more through his work as a sports journalist with The Straits Times.
As a football fan since his youth, Mr Deepanraj Ganesan gets to cover the sport and more through his work as a sports journalist with The Straits Times. PHOTO: SPH MEDIA

This SPH scholar shapes the narrative from behind the scenes for The Straits Times, delving into the lives of sports figures beyond the boundaries of the game

Many Singaporeans regard Shanti Pereira as the track queen who, in 2023, rewrote the 100m national track record six times and the 200m record four times.

Yet, few know about her struggles over the years. The Straits Times (ST) journalist Deepanraj Ganesan is one of them.

Mr Deepanraj had just started his journalism career as an intern in 2015 when Ms Pereira won her first Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) gold medal when the biennial meet was held in Singapore.

However, she did not win any more gold medals at the SEA Games for the next seven years. Labelled a “has-been” by critics, she lost both her Sport Excellence Scholarship and Singapore Management University’s Yip Pin Xiu Scholarship.

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“She had a few downs over the years,” says Mr Deepanraj. “She told me how it’s been hard, it’s been a struggle.

“People saw that she only won the gold in 2015 and there was nothing after that… that she was a one-hit wonder.”

In 2023, Ms Pereira proved her critics wrong and wowed millions across the region with her string of record-breaking athletic feats.

Mr Deepanraj wrote extensively in ST about how she overcame her challenges to become an inspiration to many.

“To see her go from the heartbreaks and the lows to the high points of her career is something you won’t forget,” he says.

Ms Pereira’s story is just one of hundreds this Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) Scholarship (now known as SPH Media Journalism Scholarship) recipient has written over the past eight years.

Every story he writes demands extensive legwork and a profound understanding of the events and the intricacies of human nature. Each article has the potential to make a difference in the lives of not just the newsmaker but countless others who read the story.

“As long as I can impact one person a day with my stories, that’s enough for me.”

Mr Deepanraj Ganesan, recipient of the SPH Media Journalism Scholarship

A turning point

His journey as a storyteller began with his deep passion for sports.

“When I went to secondary school, I fell in love with sports such as football and tennis,” says Mr Deepanraj.

“I would buy The New Paper every day for its sports coverage and read the paper from back to front.”

While studying mass communication at polytechnic, he aimed straight for a journalism internship with ST’s sports desk.

After completing his diploma and national service, he applied for and was awarded the SPH Scholarship. His parents shed tears of joy when they heard the good news.

“I think it was the first time that they were truly proud of me,” says Mr Deepanraj.

“Before that, I was not the most diligent student. The only times when my parents were called up by the school were due to my bad results or disciplinary reasons.

“The scholarship was a sign to them that I had turned my life around.”

Being a journalist has been a dream job for him since the first day he reported for work at the SPH News Centre.

“I’ve been a huge fan of Manchester United since I was young and I never imagined that one day I could speak to some of my heroes like Cristiano Ronaldo and Ryan Giggs,” he says.

Well-rounded media professional

Mr Deepanraj, 29, did not expect his journalistic skills to expand beyond covering sports. However, during his internship, Mr Deepanraj also got to work on non-sports stories and serve stints in different newsrooms.

In the process, he received guidance and mentorship from various editors and senior journalists, learning to write business profiles, cover crime news and tackle societal issues, thereby becoming a more well-rounded media professional.

Neither will he forget the time when then-United States president Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un announced their historic meeting in Singapore in 2018.

“It was something that the whole world was talking about and I got to be part of the action,” he says.

“A few weeks before the summit, everyone was trying to find out which hotels they would be staying at and I was part of the news team staking out various hotels.”

Making an impact every day

Today, Mr Deepanraj continues to push the boundaries of sports journalism. He leads the ST Sports Talk podcast channel and is exploring new ways to engage audiences on platforms like TikTok.

While sports stories may not always make the biggest headlines in Singapore, he finds deep satisfaction in knowing each story makes a difference.

“Athletes come up to me and say, ‘Hey, the story you wrote inspired me.’ Football fans thank me for the work I do for local football.

“Sometimes, my stories even help to change legislation in Singapore,” he says, referring to his reportage on the reselling of public sports facility bookings in 2021.

“As long as I can impact one person a day with my stories, that’s enough for me.”

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