‘I don’t like sport. Interviewing Sam Kerr gave me a completely different perspective.’

Confession: I've never been into watching sport. 

Like many Aussie kids, I played netball, competed in little athletics and danced growing up. But when it comes to consuming sport my track record is limited to shouting at the TV during the NRL grand final (the only time I flick on the footy), and trying to learn cricket terms to fit in with my boyfriend's family.

For me, sport is a pretty intimidating and confusing space to navigate with its own lingo and at times, problematic culture. 

Whenever I read a news article about sport or hear a male commentator's voice booming out of the TV, they assume you're part of the 'click'. You know the ins and outs of the game, the players, and the meaning behind terms like 'hat trick' and 'screamer'. It's always very... blokey. 

Sadly, I find women's sport, which receives significantly less attention and coverage than men's, an even more difficult world to get into. But it's a world that as a young woman working in the media, I want to support. 

So when I was invited to fly to London to interview the captain of our national women's soccer team and Chelsea forward, Sam Kerr, during EA Sports Women's Football Summit, I was equal parts excited and equal parts mildly terrified. 

I was interviewing Australia's greatest ever goalscorer and 2018 Young Australian of the Year, who has just made history as the first female football player to feature on the cover of the popular video game FIFA 23.

But I knew nothing about her sport of choice....


Watch a snippet of Mamamia's trip to London where we attended the EA Sports Women's Football Summit. Post continues below. 

Video via Mamamia.

Before flying overseas, I consumed as much about football (aka soccer, for us here Australia) and gaming as possible, hoping I wouldn't embarrass myself when I walked into the interview room. 

Given Sam's long list of achievements - and the fact that her face is on a global top selling video game - I expected her to (understandably) have some sort of ego.

But that was the furthest from the truth. 

Instead, I walked into a room to find a fellow Aussie sitting with her arm resting on the back of a couch, as she welcomed myself and fellow journalists to join her.

Down-to-earth and friendly, it would be easy to think I was meeting a stranger at a pub, rather than a record-breaking world-famous athlete.

She was everything the world of sports so often isn't; approachable, welcoming and straightforward.

Image: Supplied.


When I asked her how it felt to be the first female football player to grace a FIFA cover, she laughed and admitted she was "very nervous".

"I was like 'me, surely not'?" she recalled.

"As things went along, I [became] very excited... and the next thing I knew I was in Paris... and it was just a bit of a whirlwind to be honest."

The 29-year-old had to keep the news a secret for a long time. 


"Only three people in my life knew," she explained. "I did a seminar talking about [how] there needs to be a female on the cover and I was sitting there knowing that I was lying to all of them. So it's been a bit of a whirlwind but honestly, it's been so enjoyable."

Being the first female cover star is an achievement she's incredibly proud of, especially when you consider what it means for female representation and women's sport. 


For the first time, young girls all over the world will be able to reach for a FIFA game and see themselves represented on the cover. 

FIFA 23 also marks the first time women’s club football has been added to the game. 

It's a significance not lost on Sam. 

"I've played this game before I started playing football so... it's just dope to see a female on there for young girls and boys growing up."

The changes also set an example that men's and women's sports belong on an equal playing field.

In 2015, Sam and the Matildas held a strike over their pay and conditions, which were a fraction of those enjoyed by their male counterparts, by boycotting a tour in America. 

A few years later in 2019, Football Federation Australia (FFA) and Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) struck a landmark collective bargaining agreement that closed the pay gap between the Socceroos and Matildas.

There's still a long way to go towards true equality - but it's a great start, and Sam's work with FIFA is another great step in the right direction. 

"I think the amount of coverage that women's football has got over the last year has really propelled that conversation about pay gap," she said.

"And I know that things like this, TV rights, [and] all of that stuff helps the women's game, and as a player, I felt all of that coming back into pay [and] resources... So the more female athletes' faces there are on big billboards, the more people want to invest, the more people want their brand behind these players [and] behind these teams. So it's really important."


Listen to episode one of Mamamia's new sport podcast Here If You Need. Post continues below. 

Walking out of the room, I felt inspired and more determined than ever to dive into the world of women's sports and contribute to a new wave of coverage that's enticing and interesting for a wider audience.

We need to see more women’s sports on our TV screens, in our games and on our podcasts.

We need to break down the gatekeeping so more people, particularly women, can get into sports and support female athletes paving the way for young girls.

As Sam put it, "To see things like this [FIFA 23], it just reiterates that this is the norm now and this is how life is going to be, going forward - that whenever there's a male star on the cover, there will be a female and that's how it should be."

I didn't like sport. But I realise now I didn't like the way it was being sold to me. 

As Sam and the Matildas gear up to compete in the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand next year, you can bet I will be there. 

That's the kind of sport I want to be a part of. 

Feature Image: Mark Kolbe/Getty/Supplied.

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