Tuesday, October 27, 2009

fairgame magazine... would it work in Australia?

So for the last few weeks while I prepare to nod off to sleep I've had the pleasure of flipping through a few issues of the UK edition of fairgame magazine, a whole magazine devoted to that one thing I am quite partial to - women's football.

Going by its credits page, it's a pretty small team with editor Jen O'Neill and news editor Wilf Fifth, plus a person each in design, advertising and marketing. It's published by its own company, fairgame publishing, as I bet that no other magazine stable wanted to take it on.

Basically it's all about women's football in the UK, as obviously, that's where it's based. The latest edition I recieved, April 2009, has stories about English coach Hope Powell and winning the Cyprus Cup (the first thing the English girls have won in a while), a wrap-up of the women's FA Cup, a story on how the FA has cut its promised summer league and a start for professional women's football with it, Arsenal coach Vic Akers on finishing up his 22-year-career in charge of the girls, team profiles of Arsenal and Sunderland who will play in the Cup Final, posters, a day in the life of a pro player, regional round-up, a few more profiles, fitness workouts, a strength training session with Sky Blue FC's fitness guy and new drills, which this issue is all to do with long range passing. In short, it's fantastic.

I am surprised to read though that the women's leagues in the UK aren't professional. Not standard wise, as I've never seen it but I bet it's fantastic as it's been going around a lot longer than other comps, but because of stories like the one from Aresnal ladies. It's the story on Vic Akers who has managed the ladies for the past 22-years (yep, that's right 22!), but is hanging up his coaching boots this year. But in the story it says he'll be going onto general manager and will continue to oversee player recruitment, but it will still be unpaid. Akers paid job is to be Arsene Wenger's kit man. So the coaches aren't even paid? It seems that way. After Akers bowed out, Sunderland's coach is the next longest serving one. He's a police constable. Also in that story, it seems there IS a professional league on the way. But it's not there yet.

So Australia already has a semi-professional league, could we sustain a magazine like this? It seems America couldn't. If you google fairgame magazine it comes up with an option to go to the American or UK website, except that the American one doesn't work anymore and further googling found fans who were last month asking questions about their subscriptions. That one has apparently gone bust, or I hope is just taking a break? As to ride on the amazing wave the American girls have over there, ie the players can afford to live off the cashola they earn from playing, would be a terrible thing to do.

But anyway, back to an Australian edition. In terms of content, I suppose a down under one would be a bit more limited just by the fact there are eight W-League teams and the season only goes for 10 weeks. That in itself makes it a little tricky to cover regulary over a year. (Although, I can't quite get a gauge on how often UK fairgame is published, the last one is from April, the new one came out last week, but they don't seem to be regular either). Matildas are in a down period at the moment, but fingers crossed that will pick up in the next year with World Cup qualifiers and fingers crossed, a World Cup for the Aussie girls. There would obviously be the same sort of options to do with fitness and technical drills, which I think is fantastic, isn't that what young girls here would like more than anything else? A female taking them through how they approach each skill? And profiles, posters etc would also be easy to put together. I think perhaps the one thing that would determine just how well it would work is advertising. Fairgame mag has a LOT of advertisers. There is 14 full page ads and another few that take the total up to 16 pages of ads in 45 pages. Plenty of the ads are from different soccer schools in England offering programs, as well a leagues, equipment and then more soccer schools. Would there be enough advertisers to support it in Australia? It's an interesting concept though and given soccer is the fastest growing sport for women in Australia, perhaps its one with merit in the future. I know I would like to have the option of a fairgame magazine as opposed to other women's mags like Cleo or Dolly.

So anyway, if you are interested, I recommend you support fairgame and give their magazine a go. I ordered them here and for about $15 had two issues in Australia within a week. Ok, there are a lot of English words that might drive you a little mad, like gaffer, and it's pretty much only has UK news, but it offers an interesting perspective on women's football and things like the fitness and skills pages are obviously easily translated world-wide. This is the latest issue. I'll be hopping on to order one right now. Also, apologies for my terrible attempt to get pics of the pages, but I wanted to put something up to show you what it's like.


  1. Sadly, it is true that there's no such thing as professional football for women in the UK.

    We recently saw the introduction of 'central contracts' which mean that about 20 top females receive £16,000 (per year, that is - not per week like the men) but for most of the England ladies, it's a case of fitting in matches and training around their day jobs.

    (Oh and you're right - the quality IS high. England reached the finals of the UEFA Euros this summer, and they qualified to compete in the Olympics in 2008!)

    The funding and resources for women's football (soccer) are so rare in the UK that we ended up setting up our own website -
    - with the intention of uniting the community and making our voice louder.

    Fair Game is a great resource and we welcome more like it!

    I believe you have a 'Girls in Football' Australia (our sister name) but it's more about holiday coaching sessions... maybe one day there will be a Fair Game and a Girls in Football website too? It's about time there was!

    Girls in Football.com

  2. Thanks for the extra info Polly... yep, it certainly seems like a very similar case around the world when it comes to women's football. The standard is excellent, but the cash for playing isn't. But hopefully it's going in the right direction now even if it is slowly, very slowly. Also your website is fantastic! I certainly hope we can have our own one of those in Australia too :)

  3. Encouragement!!

    You're right to immediately think about advertisers, as much as readership, to begin with. It's a nice niche I think to sell ads for.

    As you indicate the limitation might be content. I do think there's enough in theory, especially if you followed Aussie girls overseas in the off season, as well as technical articles as you suggest. But you won't want to end up having to write all the content yourself.

    If you do pursue this, at least get in touch with Cecilia at Girl's Guide to the A-League. She used to write more but I know she's still there somewhere.

    I'd be good for the odd article, but am hopelessly unreliable.