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Emerging female sports journalists empowered to shine during Australia & New Zealand 2023


The FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™ has been a tournament of first in many ways. The premier jamboree of women’s football is not just taking place in the Southern Hemisphere for the initial time, but being co-hosted within the Oceania Football Confederation is also a first.

A key tournament focus for football’s world governing body is leaving a lasting legacy in the Pacific. FIFA are supporting a media programme collaboration between Oceania Football Confederation (OFC), and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) who are delivering significant support and stewardship.

Nineteen aspiring and emerging female media representatives, primarily consisting of Pacific and Australian First Nations’ backgrounds, have spent the past fortnight in Brisbane/Meaanjin working among the media contingent at the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Under the tutorship of highly-regarded veteran ABC broadcaster Peter Longman, many participants have also undergone intensive media development and online training during the preceding three months.

The programme provides a practical step towards achieving gender equality in sports media, and also contributes to the diversification of viewpoints and narratives within the industry.

Broadcasting and mobile journalism is the two primary components of the programme. One such fresh perspective comes from Finau Vulivuli who has now embarked on a fledgling media career, having refereed at several FIFA tournaments and previously represented Fiji at international level.

Fiji’s recent ascent in the region - they have finished runners-up in the past two OFC Women’s Nations Cup - underscores a need for greater local insights from those with lived experiences.

“I was invited to join the commentary and they thought I might be an asset because of my experience, Vulivuli said about her debut in the commentary area at last year’s OFC Women’s Nations Cup.

“The growth of women’s football is quite evident around the world, and with it there needs to be a growth in diversity in terms of media, and I think there is an appetite globally on that diversity. It is something we are starting to pick up back home [in Fiji] as well.

“We have had quality training, quality feedback about not picking up bad habits, so the support system has been exceptional. I was lucky enough to call the France-Brazil match with all the other broadcasters from around the world, and that was really something to soak in.”

Jacqualine Elwell is one of several indigenous Australians participating in the programme. The Arrernte woman arrived at the tournament with no media experience but is just one example of how the programme is opening doors to fresh voices.

“I have been really been out of my comfort zone in this space, so it has been a real eye-opener of what I am capable of,” Elwell said, who is working in the commentary field during the programme. “It is a testament to those that have come before me and the resilience I hold as an indigenous woman and I’m very proud of that.

“We have been in the exact same surroundings as a paid broadcaster, commentator and journalist and everyone has been so open and welcoming. The opportunity we have enjoyed is really exciting and humbling. It took some really decent humans to create a space to allow indigenous and women of colour an opportunity to show what we are made of, and I think we really smashed those expectations.”

“There is really a shift in society and sport to be inclusive, and sport in particular really bridges those gaps for a lot of communities. We get to go home and say, ‘hey look what I have done, and look what you can do’, it smashes ceilings for young girls that don’t feel they have a place in sport.

“That is what it is about, it is about moving our people forward and these are the kind of opportunities that allow growth and indigenous-led spaces, and fill gaps that other people have led for us.”

“It has been a hectic period but we have learnt so much from each other especially what the differences are,” said freelance digital creative Cleverlyn Mayuga, a special invitee from the Philippines. “In the Philippines, social media is super big so we are used to using out smart-phones to get our stories across, but I have seen in the past week that story-telling is often through radio and TV in some of their countries so it has been a perspective into how different our practices are.

“I don’t think many of my countrymen realise what a feat it is [for Philippines] to be part of this tournament, because there has been not so much story-telling around the feat of these athletes. I’m hoping that through this programme young girls can think ‘ok, I can be that athlete,’. My goal after the World Cup is to sustain the energy of how it is to see Filipinas playing in a world class event and show that it is possible.”

“Hopefully when I go home I inspire younger producers and that is one of the goals for me after this programme.”

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