For those who love sport, you would have seen a surge towards making the women’s game more accessible. From playing matches at the men’s stadiums (pre-COVID) to showing games on popular broadcasting channels. But what is it like off the pitch and breaking into a male-dominated industry…?
According to Insider Sport, women’s football has rapidly grown in popularity since it came into fully professional competition back in 2018. Now known as the Women’s Super League (WSL), it hit its biggest milestone in the 2019 Women’s World Cup, surpassing 1.12 billion viewers.
THE WOMEN’S GAME, TO DATE
For those who watched, the Lionesses progressed to the final four, creating not only history but the dawn of a new era. Since these successes, it has inspired corporations to back the women’s game to encourage more young girls to get into sport. Barclays was one of the record spenders with a figure to be believed around £18 million to support the evolution of the game, and with a pledge to support the FA in creating Girls Football School Partnerships. Meaning over 6,000 more schools will now offer children the opportunity to play football and sport in general.
So what does it look like off the field, in a professional capacity? We spoke with Anna Minter, an aspiring sport journalist at Bournemouth University about her career goals.
WHY I WANT TO MAKE IT AS A FEMALE SPORT JOURNALIST
When you think of a football pundit, you most likely picture Jeff Stelling reeling off the half-time scores at breakneck speed. Or Gary Lineker greeting you from your sofa as you watch Match of the Day. Some people would probably name the likes of Gabby Logan, or Alex Scott. But not many.
Just like many other industries, the sport industry has historically been dominated by men, which is fittingly married with the fact that sport has been a male’s prerogative since it was first fashioned. But we’re in 2021 now, and just like many other areas of society, sport has become progressively more diverse. It’s encouraging to see more female journalists breaking the mould.
WHO INSPIRES YOU?
Jacqui Oatley is a female journalist that I really look up to, and her story is rather phenomenal. She had always loved sport and had been an avid football player in her younger years. Her time on the pitch was cut short after suffering what would prove to be a grievous knee injury. And this pushed her towards making her mark on football off the pitch.
At the age of 27, Jacqui took a leap of faith. Snubbed her well-paid property job to go back to university to study Broadcast Journalism. The aspiring journalist put everything into her year of study, juggling a part-time internship at the BBC with wet and windy evenings covering local league fixtures.
In 2007, Jacqui became the first female football commentator in television history. And since then, she has had an illustrious career in broadcast journalism, sporting her talents in mainly football and darts.
WHAT’S YOUR NEXT CHAPTER?
I’m no Jacqui Oatley, but there’s no harm in dreaming big. For now, my final year studies have my undivided attention, and will continue to do so until I take an obligatory picture on campus of me cradling a copy of my printed dissertation.
After that… the honest answer is, I’m not entirely sure. I don’t think anyone can be sure about most things in the current climate. I hope to find my feet in a career that is sport-orientated. And if that involves covering games on a cold, rainy night at Stoke, then so be it.
OVER ON PITCHTALKS
Anne-Marie Batson a multi-platform broadcaster with several years on-air experience. Alongside reporting for Premier League Productions (IMG), talkSPORT, BBC Sport, and Wimbledon among others, she is also building her own independent media empire AmberGlass Presents.
Back when she started out in sport, the women’s game was just an unknown commodity. She has been lucky enough to be involved in this movement. Accelerating the growth of the women’s game, taking on several different roles. One being hosting a regular podcast and another being pitch-side, working with the likes of Alex Scott.
So what’s the journey been like for Anne-Marie living being on the inside of the game? Check out a snippet of the latest PitchTALKS podcast series here.