Apart from England not winning it, that was a great World Cup.
Note how I wrote “World Cup”. I’m with Alex Scott on this one; it’s not men’s football or women’s football, it’s football. Same game, same laws, same pitches. Same kits, in most cases.
On a personal level it was great to see some of the players I met back in 2007 doing well, on (five) and off (three) the pitch. But it reminded me of how I got so closely involved in the first place.
Obligatory History Lesson
The short version is that I and a friend had started a side-consultancy, and our need to advertise somewhere coincided with a need by Leeds United Ladies to raise some funds. The Chairwoman invited me down to a game, and I pointed out that I’d tried to find out when and where they played but that they had no website (this was early 2007). She said it was something they were looking into.
Let it not be said that I don’t know how to play to my strengths…
That turned into writing match reports; I happened to be at an away game at Doncaster, no-one else was around to do one so I had to hurriedly recall what I’d seen and who scored, when. That turned into writing previews. Then, the season after, being the first club on Twitter & Facebook. The season after that, supervising a group of media students as we won the league cup, and then starting live text commentaries from all of our games.
And occasionally standing in for the Secretary, completing team sheets, having the pre-game meetings with the officials. As well as taking up media requests.
Note: I said that this is the short version.
The Iceberg Principle
It’s great that we’re getting all of this coverage and support for the England team, and I hope it extends to the Women’s Super League season. But what if you’re running a club that isn’t in WSL (formerly WSL1) or The Women’s Championship (formerly WSL2)?
What if you’re in the third tier? Zero television coverage there. As for the fourth tier… well, I think that’s where Leeds United Ladies is now. If it wasn’t for a page on Wikipedia I’d have no idea. That’s also how I found out that Guiseley Vixens and Southampton Saints both folded at the end of the 2018/19 season. There’s no money and not much support if you’re not in the top flight.
Friends, 7/8ths of the women’s game isn’t visible. And that’s where you come in.
If you’re a student, what better way to hone your talents before heading into paid employment than offering to do match reports for a club? If you’ve some experience under your belt already, why not use those talents to organise a fundraiser? If you’ve the contacts why not see if you can get some player or shirt sponsorship arranged?
When I volunteered I did so on the basis I had skills that the club needed. They offered me the chance to practice those skills. In doing so we both won; they got the publicity their talents deserved, I gained invaluable PR and media experience.
I’m not saying you have to give up whole weekends to travel around England, as I sometimes did. But then, all I offered to do was to build a website…