The Female Perspective: The Football Sack and women in football

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Not only am I a female and part of The Football Sack, I am a female and part of the tenth year of The Football Sack bringing you football coverage by aspiring sports journalists.

I am here today to share with you the origins of The Football Sack’s relationship with women’s football – where it all began and some of the stories of successful female graduates.

Ten years ago Christian Layland and Matt Greenlaw put their heads together and created the The Football Sack – “a voluntary website that aims to combine quality reporting with irreverence and humour – using social and digital media to build and improve upon the coverage of the Hyundai A-League, Westfield W-League and football in Australia.”

Equal coverage was a key factor for Layland and Greenlaw who, along with Layland’s father, Chris, decided that this would include the W-League. At this time, no platform other than host broadcasters ABC were providing much media attention to the W-League.

When The Football Sack earned its first media accreditation in 2010, this being for their commitment to bring coverage to the W-League, it was Layland Sr who ventured off to games to cover the league.

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“I used to go up to Brisbane and watch the Roar games. I’d be watching the games and talking to the girls. We always provided match reports, we spoke to some of the players, we did teams of the year,” Layland Sr said.

“It was always good to go up to the games and talk to the players as well. They enjoyed getting some coverage for a change.”

The rise of the W-League soon coincided with the growth of The Football Sack, with the team then including the routine coverage of the W-League as a part of its new structured internship program.

“I’m happy with how [the internship program] has turned out,” Layland Sr said.

“I stepped aside as young people began coming through and it was more beneficial for them to be doing it.”

Two of those young people taking part in the internship were Sara Tomevska and Tara Cassidy. Two women amongst a group of males who wanted their opportunity to report about the football.

Sara Tomevska was an intern with The Football Sack during the 2013/14 A-League season covering the Central Coast Mariners. The Mariners at the time did not have a W-League team but she was still as equally involved in the A-League.

Her roles were not much different to the roles by interns today; writing match reports, feature articles, all the things you see on The Football Sack website, however there was one difference Tomevska noted on from her time.

“I definitely noticed myself as the only women in any of the post-match pressers. You do feel like a bit of like the odd one out at the games in that environment,” Tomevska said.

“It was intimidating, and people do look at you and think you are young and female therefore you don’t know what you’re talking about.

“It took me a fair few games to work up the courage in the pressers but you gain confidence as you go along.”

Growing up watching The World Game with her Dad, Tomevska combined her live for sport and her passion for writing which is what enticed her to the intern program.

Six or so years on, Tomevska is currently with the ABC in Adelaide but had previously moved from Sydney to Broken Hill to pursue her media dreams. She recently credits her current job status to taking the opportunities she was given previously.

“Being really, really determined. You do get a lot of rejection emails, you get a lot of interviews, you get really close but then they might go with a different candidate; I think persistence is key,” she said

Another graduate, Tara Cassidy, has also participated in numerous internships and regional jobs to secure a position in the media and currently works for the ABC, situated on the Sunshine Coast.

During Cassidy’s time at The Football Sack, she covered the Brisbane Roar’s 2016/2017 A-League and W-League seasons. Whilst she did not necessarily pursue a sports journalism career later on in life, she credited the internship for the skills she acquired during the time.

“There was going to be something that I learnt from being in that internship whether that was typing faster, working to deadline ot working under pressure. All of those things would be the same and the skills I would need regardless of area I went into,” Cassidy said.

Cassidy also joined The Football Sack team with no background knowledge on football. This made her more eager to do well during the internship and for later on to be an experience to show potential employers her ability to quickly learn about a given topic.

“I knew absolutely nothing! It was more of a chance to step up and challenge myself and I thought if I could learn everything there is to know about soccer and step up to the challenge and write articles that people are interested in and sound like I know what I’m talking about, that any challenge in a job environment [would be approachable],” she said.

It’s a source of pride at The Football Sack that W-League coverage is given the same priority as A-League coverage, and that there have been so many women who have graduates from the program and gone onto great things.

“The Football Sack have been particularly good in making sure that women’s football is covered and given the airtime it deserves. They have been strong advocates of making sure that all of the women involved in The Football Sack were included,” Tomevska said.

Here’s to ten years of W-League coverage and to many more years to come.

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Tricia Mifsud
Covering Melbourne Victory during the 2019/2020 season. Bachelor of Media and Communications (Sports Journalism) at Latrobe University. Dedicated to writing articles that sports fans want to read.