By Natasha Catrakilis
As with most sports, we are all fully aware that the soccer world is largely dominated by males, not only in the form of athletes, coaches, managers, owners, but also (and not too surprisingly) – as soccer bloggers. Women showing face in the sports arena has only recently gained momentum within the past few decades, as an increasing number of females today strive to become both professional athletes and pursue various occupations within the sports industry. However, I have noticed that the actual coverage of sports, whether it be via reporting, broadcasting, commentating, or blogging, has seen a slower adoption of the female voice, particularly in the realm of soccer. Why this is, I am not quite certain. Perhaps we find the male voice a more authoritative and/or trustworthy resource when it comes to sports? Perhaps there is an added pressure placed onto a woman who claims she can “talk” about sports? Whatever the case, I was very glad when I came across a soccer blog that is specifically defined by the female voice.
Fútbolita, a blog commonly known as The Female Voice of Football, was founded in June 2009 by journalist Ash Hashim – a woman who isn’t afraid to share her soccer knowledge with the rest of the world. In the words of Ash herself, Fútbolita is an “international brand, website and boutique team known… for our exclusive interviews, upbeat football coverage, fun campaigns, and cultural insights into football and we do it all in a delightful feminine style.” What exactly does Ash mean by feminine style?
Well from my personal reading of the blog, I would say that what marks the so-called feminine style of Fútbolita is its personal touch: Ash and the rest of her female blogging crew have the unique ability to seamlessly blend both the facts and fun about football all into one pleasurable experience for their readers. I believe this personal touch element is what makes Fútbolita attractive to a larger audience and not surprisingly to more females. Gone are the days of the mundane match overviews and a surplus of superfluous soccer stats. Fútbolita provides its readers with the insider’s peek into the beautiful game. The site itself can generally be divided into three categories – football insights, interviews, and gossip, but many times the three spill over into one another making for some very interesting reads.
What I love most about the Fútbolita crew is that these female bloggers are not scared to let their personality shine through, and they make a consistent effort to intertwine our lives (as ordinary social media users) with the lives of soccer stars we’re trying to keep up with. For example, in a recent post about Italy’s win over the Czech Republic, the Fútbolita blogger not only highlights the importance of the victory in that it secures Italy’s spot in the World Cup and marks Gianluigi Buffon’s 136th cap for la Nazionale making him the country’s most-capped player, but she also makes note of the Azzurri celebrations thereafter.
After such excitement, gli Azzurri’s man in charge, Cesare Prandelli, took some time to relax in Milan, where he was spotted strolling the streets in a rare public outing. Cesare was accompanied by his girlfriend, Novella Benini. Seems Cesare has much to smile about these days. Meanwhile, Federica Nargi, Alessandro Matri’s leading lady, stepped out solo in Florence as part of Vogue’s Fashion Night Out. As brand ambassador for Calzedonia, Federica greeted guests at their Florence boutique. From the looks of it, a good time was had by all.
… and perhaps inspired by Fashion Week, Leonardo Bonucci took it upon himself to become the Vecchia Signora’s Fashion Police this weekend. He took to Twitter to opine on the sartorial transgressions of his teammates. His target: Gianluigi Buffon. Gigi’s crime? Socks and sandals. Seriously, Gigi?
See what I mean about personality shining through? From the nicknames (Gigi) to the caught-in-the-act photos, Fútbolita bloggers are certainly not ones to shy away from the more interesting, perhaps hidden aspects of the soccer world. For some viewers, mentioning players’ girlfriends and recent twitter posts may be TMI, but for those soccer lovers who are interested in experiencing that more personal touch with their beloved sport, Fútbolista is the blog to read.
Another noteworthy element about Fútbolita is its emphasis on the more subtle cultural nuances of soccer, both in men and women’s soccer and in leagues all over the globe. I found a recent post under the Women’s Football section of the site noting Germany’s Inka Grings perception of American versus European soccer for women to be quite interesting. The Fútbolita blogger points out that while many female European players have flocked to USA to play in the recently-revived league (Inka Grings having recently joined the Chicago Red Stars), not many spectators or players are aware of the differences of style in women’s soccer.
According to Grings, factors such as the Americans’ liberal dress code has surprised her. Oh come on now, anyone should be allowed to wear whatever they want to training!
“In Germany and Switzerland we have a uniform dress code whether we’re playing home or away, but in the USA the players all wear their own clothes. Of course, that’s just a minor detail but I think it’s got something to do with your attitude, identifying yourself with your club and only concentrating on the game the hand
“At home it’s not acceptable to go sightseeing or go on a shopping trip the day before a match. Those are the things that need to change, even if it only marks a 10-15 per cent improvement in performance. In sport it’s vital to be extremely disciplined.”
However, Grings praised the work ethic of the American game, which practises an impressive “do or die” mindset.
I would say this article in particular demonstrates the feminine style mentioned earlier that defines this blog. Not many other soccer blogs would think to identify fashion and dress code as a cultural aspect of the game that reflects the attitude of a nation as a whole.
One final piece that I’ll end with is Ash’s post called “Inside The FIFA-AFC Congress : Women’s Football Growth, Corruption’s “Taskforce” & Blatter’s Gaffe.” The title of the post itself (as with all of Fútbolita posts) is catchy, but so is Ash’s take on her “strange experience” at a FIFA Congress.
A FIFA Congress can be a rather strange experience – you look around to see delegates from 47 countries walking in and out of the hall as Sepp Blatter delivers a speech about tackling corruption and the “phenomenal” growth of Asian football at the same time.
…Pardon us here, but not all the delegates graduated from Harvard Law School – all we need is basic answers to the big problems in football. Bribery? Let’s address who and how it’s taking place. No need for all that jargon and beating around the bush. Let’s strip down the walls, provide colourful pens and get every single table to suggest a solution!
…When it came to women’s football, however, Moya Dodd did a superb job of highlighting Japan and South Korea’s achievements at the Olympics and the Asian Cup, as well as the game-changing hijab rule for Arab and Muslim girls in the region. The lawyer is a former national team player and vice-captain of Australia’s women’s team.
…Politics aside, it was rather enlightening to see the growth and achievements of Asian football in the FIFA family within the last three years. Women’s football has also presented a tremendous growth opportunity, with more than half a million women who play the sport all around the world now. According to Blatter, the sport’s economic partners in Asia now account for 50%, with Europe accounting for only the remaining 30%. “The future is Asia – it’s a powerhouse,” he said. Well, let’s see what Sheikh Salman can do for the region.
As you can see, a post like this truly does provide us with that unique insider’s peek. Ash writes as though we were standing right there besides her attending at the event. In my opinion, this intimate style of writing has a strange way of making readers more comfortable and interested with the topics at hand. In this particular case, Ash touches upon two usually underplayed parts of soccer world – Asian Football and, even more rarely discussed, Women’s Asian Football.
All in all, I would say that Fútbolita is a blog truly catered to the masses. It’s unique style and fresh lively approach allow for it to be not only simple to follow, but also tempting to come back to time after time. Additional perks include Fútbolita’s own Twitter account, Facebook page, and YouTube channel – making the site easily accessible to all.