Friday, 6 July 2012

FAWSL experience

Welcome to this blog! I thought I should start writing one as it is encouraged on my course - which is kinda what this post is all about.

A few months back, I was out shopping in Southampton's big shopping centre West Quay with a friend. Just your usual day, nothing special about it - then I get a Twitter update through on my phone. I was pretty shocked to then learn that I had been randomly picked by FAWSL's Twitter page - for those who aren't familiar with women's football, this stands for FA Women's Super League, the new league for elite women's football in this country - to go along to a FAWSL and be a media reporter for the day. I was stunned to say the least; not only had I won a competition I didn't enter for, but also I was doing something I actually want to do after University! Brilliant.

Fast forward a few months and I was arriving at Borehamwood FC, home of Arsenal Ladies to meet the person I was to be with all day. I was excited - the game I was covering just happened to be the current top two teams in the league, Arsenal Ladies and Birmingham City Ladies, and it was tipped to be a fantastic game. I knew how good Arsenal were as well in the world of women's football - yes they actually win trophies unlike the men's side. (Sorry had to be done.) And Birmingham had also just won the Women's FA Cup, which Arsenal had been usually winning for years before. Oh, and the fact that it was being broadcast live on ESPN excited me even more. I was like a kid in a candy shop.

I met my very nice guide, Leigh, for the day and proceeded through the small board room pitch-side. Once a few things were tied up, I stood near the dugouts and simply watched the two teams warm up. I remember thinking that I wasn't far away from players I had grown up watching yet, I was here, about to report on them. Surreal. What made it even more surreal was then Faye White and Sue Smith walked past me, both smiling at me as I smiled nervously back.

I was then briefly showed the vast number of ESPN tracks outside the small stadium, seeing briefly the technology that is involved with a live football broadcast. Now I like my technology and I like to think I am a little bit of a geek, but I had never seen so many wires or small television screens as I did. I found it very cool indeed.

I then took my seat in the small press area, sitting next to two young chaps who were also there reporting for other platforms. Armed with a Mac, I set out writing a match report for the game, making notes with everything that happened - and boy, what a game it was! Arsenal ramped home 4-2, their class truly showing throughout the game. The score of course pleased the home crowd, which was a high number! This was pleasing to see - and the fact it was broadcast on ESPN makes me hope that women's football is getting the deserved coverage it is at long last. Maybe not fully there yet, but it is getting there for certain. The return of star striker Kelly Smith capped off what was a wonderful afternoon for the home crowd - and I had the chance to interview her after the game!

Yes. Kelly Smith. I know right?! That was surreal for sure. Standing in front of my HTC phone being used as a Dictaphone was Kelly Smith. One of my favourite players growing up. Just wow. I asked a few questions, querying about her injury and her team's performance, and she was great, getting a few good answers to use for my report.

It was then time for me to depart and what a day it had been. I had been introduced to a number of people, watched a fantastic game of football and topped it off with interviewing Kelly Smith - this experience also counted as vital work experience for my course and my future career. With my course and choice of occupation in the future, getting work experience is crucial. Gaining contacts is also important, it is what we are constantly told and I was very very grateful for the experience I had. It was simply incredible, it was everything and more than what I expect. I came away from the ground just smiling to myself and being ridiculously happy - if I end up doing something along the lines of what I did that day, I will be very very happy indeed. I hope I can get some more experiences like this and hopefully with the FAWSL team once more.

I'd like to thank the team who made it possible for me to go and have that experience - I thoroughly enjoyed myself! I'd also recommend to anyone who likes football to along to a FAWSL game, they really are great games.

I'd like to give a piece of advice to any aspiring journalists like myself out there; experience is crucial, but having fun is also hugely important. Go for places that you know you would enjoy your work, aim to get experience in a area you are interested in. Make the most out of the experience, but enjoy yourself at the same time.

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