'How maths scored me a job in fantasy football'

Fancy yourself the next Jürgen Klopp? Reckon you could give Pep Guardiola a run for his money?

With fantasy football the dream of managing your own football team can become a (virtual) reality.

Fantasy football is a competition where you can select imaginary teams from the players in a league and score points according to the actual performance of the players.

But what’s it like to work in fantasy football 'in real life'? We spoke to Holly who has become one of the leading female fantasy football influencers in the UK.

According to its website, Fantasy Premier League has over six million players and is the biggest fantasy football game in the world.

The 29-year-old maths teacher, from Beverley, who runs the Fantasy Football Community (FFCOM), started playing when it still involved ringing up newspapers and submitting your team for the season.

But it wasn't until Holly started to use social media when she was on maternity leave that she thought she might be able to make a career out of it.

“Over time my account grew and instead of looking at other people’s advice I was sharing more advice myself,“ she said.

"I got the opportunity to write a couple of articles for some websites and that got me thinking, 'where else could I take this?'".

Holly says she wasn’t sure about entering such a saturated market and was “wary” of attempting to give advice, but she says it was her family who encouraged her to try and make a business out of it.

“Just sort of overnight I had this idea: instead of writing articles on my own website to share advice, I could pull together other people’s to make a tool to navigate what was already out there,” she explained.

“And then having my own website has given me an outlet to share my own advice.”

She now runs a series of social media channels and is a popular regular on Sky Sport’s Fantasy Premier League Show, which is broadcast globally on the Premier League channel.

Holly is a maths teacher, mum-of-one and fantasy football influencer. Talk about multi-tasking.

Holly, who has a maths degree, said she always had a passion for applying her subject in the real world.

“I’ve always loved maths and stats, being able to study historical data, make interpretations from that, looking at odds and predictions, “ she said.

But she stresses that fantasy football is still a game of luck.

There are a number of people out there who have built algorithms to create a team each week, looking at expected probabilities to predict what’s going to happen, but it’s real life and you can’t rely on predictions.

"We’ve got VAR in the Premier League this season, there’s injuries that happen, it snows and games get called off.

“Looking at the data can get you so far, but even the best computers wouldn’t be able to just win simply like that because there’s so many different dynamics to the game.”

Holly, who has A-levels in Maths, English Literature and Geography, added:

“If you’d had told me when I was leaving university that my main income would come from journalism and writing, after a maths degree which involved barely any writing for the whole three years, I probably wouldn’t have believed you.”

If Bitesize had a fantasy football team...

Holly said she hopes Fantasy Football could be something more women could become involved in, and said the growth of popularity and coverage of the women’s game has helped her.

She added that having more women in the sporting spotlight - whether that be athletes, pundits or referees - has broken down stereotypes, and given her opportunities she might not have had in the past.

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