Hello chums. Arsenal Women do not play this weekend and, after Wednesday night’s Conti Cup tie at Millwall, they will go on a 3 week hiatus before playing West Ham on Sunday, 6th January in the WSL. As such, I thought I would take the usual Friday afternoon match preview slot to update you on what we’re trying to do with the coverage, which we’ve expanded this season thanks to the part Patreon model the site adopted this year.
The way we are currently structuring the coverage is to have match coverage- a full match preview for every game and for the games I can get to (which is most of them) we bring you a short, 5-600 word match reaction piece from a player or the manager that goes on the site within a few hours of the final whistle. (NB- Arsenal, Joe and the players are exceptionally generous in granting us this level of access and the club charitably put up with my pestering emails, so full credit to them!)
At the beginning of the week, we do the Arsenal Women Weekly Round-Up, which is essentially a newsletter rounding up events and highlights of the most recent game, other tidbits from the week and signposting other interesting content related to the Arsenal Women. We are aware that a large portion of the audience will have a casual or passing interest in the team, so the Round-Ups look to cater to that, largely.
Then we have the monthly feature interviews, which are usually around 12-1300 words and go a little more in depth on a particular subject. We want these to be accessible to those with both a passing interest and an invested interest. My ambition is to use these to cover some of the wider subjects around women’s football too.
For instance, last year we spoke to former Head of Marketing at Arsenal Women Gemma Avery about the challenges of marketing women’s football. Last month, we spoke to Danielle van de Donk about what a typical week looks like for a pro women’s footballer in terms of diet, training, recovery, video analysis and strength and conditioning.
Now, we can’t necessarily take on a ‘wider’ topic every month. We also try to respond to significant developments at the club for these pieces. For instance, in October, manager Joe Montemurro signed a new contract, so we spoke to him about it. In June, we spoke to Dan Carter about her ACL injury just a few days after she underwent surgery.
For this month, we will be chatting with ex-Gunners boss Pedro Losa, who is now working as a Director of Football at Millwall. Essentially, the feature interviews will take on slightly less timebound subjects. I do want to get to some of the more sensitive subjects around women’s football in these pieces too- sexism and sexuality for instance.
We didn’t want to do that straight off the bat as we increased the coverage of the women’s team. We didn’t want to define the coverage in that way at the outset. We wanted to put across, from the start, that increasing the coverage was not ‘political’ for want of a better word, or about ‘tokenism’, but that Arsenal Women is a valuable product in its own right that is worthy of coverage and worth following on its own merits.
We don’t make comparisons to the men’s team in the writing, for example. I wouldn’t describe Aaron Ramsey as playing “a bit like Jordan Nobbs” (well, I might, but most people wouldn’t), so there is no reason to describe Jordan Nobbs as having a similar playing style to Aaron Ramsey. There are plenty of people that support the women’s team that have little to no interest in the men’s team and we want to be conscious of that too. We want the women’s players, the women’s staff and the women’s games to define the coverage.
However, we will get to some of these broader topics eventually, they are important and they require thought because we need to treat them appropriately. We also need to speak to the right people to do them justice. That takes time. There are other very interesting avenues for exploration too, the high number of women’s football supporters on the autism spectrum, for example. Arsenal do brilliant outreach work with local girls’ football teams and I would love to shine a bit of a light on this too.
But ultimately, what we want is to create content that people will enjoy and find valuable, be they hugely invested or just casually interested in Arsenal Women. We even want to produce articles that appeal to people with little to no interest in the women’s team. Hopefully, as the thing grows, we might even be able to go a little more ‘multi-media’ in some of the content, but it’s fair to say we’re not quite there yet. We are grateful to Kunjan Malde too for her excellent images from games and training sessions.
Please do keep feeding back with suggestions on the coverage if you have any- whether it be on what we already do or on what you would like to see. Feel free to tweet me @Stillberto at any time. This is for you after all! Cheers.