Historically and socially speaking, a lot of the media covering sports like football is saturated with male voices – resulting in women who have an interest in the sport not being taken seriously and are often subjected to misogynistic abuse by disgruntled male fans. While this is not a problem that can be easily solved solely through greater representation of women in football media, it is an important first step in the right direction. Alongside the restart of the Premier League in June 2020, The Football Ramble launched a brand new format and saw four new voices join the ranks as regular Ramble hosts: accomplished broadcaster Jules Breach (BT Sport, Optus, talkSPORT, Premier League Productions) and world-leading football expert Andy Brassell (BT Sport, BBC, Premier League Productions)—both formerly of the eponymous Jules and Andy show elsewhere on the Football Ramble network—as well as presenter Kate Mason (Sky Sports) and journalist Vithushan Ehantharajah (The Independent). The Football Ramble now boasts the most diverse range of voices available in football podcasting and over 60% of episodes are now presented by women. As a result, the show has been able to host those difficult conversations, with both Kate and Jules sharing their perspectives and personal stories regarding their experiences as women in the industry.
Jules is a broadcast journalist and host of BT Sport’s Score, and has also presented for UEFA, Premier League and ESPN. Jules grew up in Brighton, as well as Mauritius and Jamaica. She has a wealth of experience with and knowledge of football, and her perspective as a successful WOC working in the football media world is absolutely invaluable. Kate is also a presenter, working for Sky Sports. A keen Spurs fan and long time Ramble listener, Kate brings sharp wit and a wealth of knowledge to the podcast as well as her skills as an adept and experienced host. She’s also hosting the Football Ramble Book Club—featuring intimate conversations with football’s most revered and exciting authors—as part of the Ramble’s new sister stream, Football Ramble Presents. Both Kate and Jules have used the Ramble’s platform to call attention to the difficulties and harassment that female presenters (and fans) face in a male-dominated space—an issue that’s all too often overlooked by the wider community. We had a chat with Kate and Jules about what representation means to them and their experience as part of the Football Ramble team.
What do you believe are the benefits of female representation in sports media?
JULES: “It’s so important to have strong, knowledgeable, good female journalists, presenters, hosts and contributors in sport. As a teenager I was obsessed with sport and knew it was an area I wanted to work in. I also loved the idea of working in the media, and always had a fascination, a sense of intrigue when it came to journalism, and just in general—I love talking, asking questions, and having good conversations with other humans.”
KATE: “Like Jules, I’ve loved sport my whole life and I want the world of sport to welcome everyone. That’s why I made it my mission to break into football broadcasting. I wanted to tell the stories that fascinate me and make everyone—girls and boys, young and old, and everyone in between—feel a part of that special atmosphere you only get when watching the world’s most popular and fascinating sport.”
JULES: “But growing up there were hardly any female sports personalities, no one I could identify with, so I was never sure whether it would even be a possible career path. Nowadays, there are so many inspiring women working in sport, especially football, and hopefully young girls will be encouraged to follow their lead.”
KATE: “I still remember so clearly the first time I heard a female voice commentating on Match of the Day: it was Jacqui Oatley, unbelievably only 11 years ago. She took so much heat and paved the way for all the women who came after her in football. When I’ve had people push back against giving me chances in the game—‘We don’t want a woman’s voice on this’—it’s made me work harder and want to live up to the example of all of those extraordinary women who came before. In fact, we’re getting to speak to one of them for Ramble Book Club at the start of the new season: Julie Welch, Fleet Street’s first female football writer. It’s wicked that the Ramble is sharing stories like hers.”
JULES: “Football is for everyone so there should be, and needs to be, more of a diverse representation in the media for the audience that indulge it. Ramble has done an amazing job putting together such a fun, diverse team, and me and Kate are proud to be the ladies flying the Ramble flag!”
How have you enjoyed working as a part of the Ramble team?
JULES: “I joined the team last summer and was super excited to be part of such a fun group—and to be the first regular female voice on the Ramble! The whole team welcomed me with open arms and have always encouraged me to be myself and show my personality. In the last year I’ve worked regularly with the incredibly knowledgeable and lovely Andy Brassell on a weekly pod looking into the wider stories in football as well as talking in depth about specific football moments or players. Now, in the new Ramble format, it has taken things to a whole other level! We’re one tight knit group of mates who just love football, get frustrated at football, and laugh about football, and that’s now what you get to hear Monday through Friday on the Ramble. It’s been the most fun and we are all so excited for the new season!”
KATE: “Getting to work with your mates is the dream isn’t it? It’s an honour to make the pod because I think we just get to represent the kind of people who are following football today, and who always have. But now more of a range of football fans are getting a voice. I mean, my mum was going down to Molineux in the 70s and she says she never had any problems, but you maybe wouldn’t have expected to see people like her in fanzines back in the day. At the Ramble it’s not just the people you hear on the pod every day, but all of the crew who make it fit together too who are such a fun, clever and welcoming bunch. There’s even a new canine member of the team too, isn’t there Jules?”
JULES: “Yes! Pablo! My new dog is the newest addition and he’s maybe everyone’s favourite… The team doesn’t treat me and Kate like girls. We’re just treated like other members of the Ramble family, like any other member of the team. And that’s how it always should be.”
Blandine Hoge is a Podcast Production Assistant at Stakhanov and lives in London.
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