Future sports broadcasters: Winnipeg kids granted unique experience covering Jets

Some lucky kids got a glimpse of what it’s like working as a sports broadcaster at this year’s NextGen Takeover Game hosted by the Winnipeg Jets. Swidda Rassy reports.

By Swidda Rassy

There may have been a few nerves for 10-year-old Arth Patel.

Arth was one of six lucky kids to be part of the production and broadcast team for Sunday night’s Winnipeg Jets game – a 4-0 loss to the New York Islanders.

It was part of the annual NextGen Takeover contest.

“This is my whiteboard scoreboard, it’s not showing the score we wanted but it’s actually happening and I’m keeping it up as the game goes,” said Arth.

“I’m taking over the post-game show.”

The contest inspires the next generation of kids interested in sports entertainment.

Arth, who was dressed for the occasion, followed the game closely, kept score, and had the chance to share his post-game notes.

“It really excites you,” said the 10-year-old. “But you also get really nervous because you get on the jumbotron and you know what you’re going to do, and it also makes you feel like what are you going to say, like, what am I going to say now, and types of things like that.”

Young broadcasters in training Arth Patel, 10, and Heidi Sobkowich, 7, at the Winnipeg Jets game on Feb. 26, 2023. (Credit: CityNews/Swidda Rassy)

Forty-two kids aged 16 and younger sent in their audition tapes; six were selected to fill in the production and media positions.

Seven-year-old Heidi Sobkowich was among those chosen alongside Arth.

Heidi got the chance to practise her reporting skills as she interviewed one of the Winnipeg Jets players after the game.

“I’m kinda a mix of both,” said Heidi. “I’m excited but I’m also nervous at the same time.”

She says she sent in her audition tape after getting inspired by a friend.

“A girl in my dad’s band, her son actually did it so I got inspired by that and wanted to do it.”

And while they still have a long way ahead, both Winnipeg kids say they’re looking forward to their future careers in sports entertainment.

“Growing the game is very important and getting them interested in something that’s out of their comfort zone,” said Jonathan Bailey, the marketing services manager with True North Sports + Entertainment. “And something to give them more confidence as they’re growing up and they’re not sure what to do. They’re interested in hockey, it might not be playing hockey but working in hockey too.

“All the kids are having chance to take over different roles whether that be radio broadcast, post-game show, a PA announcer, end-game host.”

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