Change The Channel - An interview with
Words by Polly March.
We are already our first week into the Women’s 2019 World Cup and excitement is reaching a fever pitch. England’s win over Scotland on Sunday was the UK’s most watched women’s football match of all time, drawing in an impressive 6.1 million viewers on BBC television! This supports new research from the UK’s leading charity for girls and young women, Girlguiding, which underlines how the greater visibility of women’s sport will inspire more girls to take up sport.
So, how can we continue this perception and show of encouragement for our female athletes? I got a chance to catch up with the dynamic duo behind #ChangeTheChannel, a campaign that is boldly challenging bars and pubs to show the Women’s World Cup this summer. Kelsey, an art director from Essex, and Amelia, a creative in the media originally from Australia, both now living and working in East London, caught the headlines with their eye-catching millennial pink and football-pitch green slogans, demanding the female footballers and fans have the same respect as that from the men’s tournament last year. We couldn’t miss the chance to find out the secret to their success and how they have galvanised the spirit of women’s team sports!
How did this campaign originate and what is your core motivation?
It originated when we were sitting in the pub one night (where all good ideas begin), chatting about the coverage of women’s sport. Afterwards, we did some research and realised only 4-10% of all sport coverage in the UK is women’s sport. How rubbish is that? With one of us being a football fanatic and the other one a sucker for any kind of team sport – we couldn’t stand by and do nothing.
We wanted more young girls and women to have the opportunity to be able to experience the benefits of sport like we have (and still do), and as the old saying goes - you can’t be what you can’t see. So we thought if we got more venues showing women’s sport, we’d start to foster more positivity around women’s sport in society. After all, we knew there were so many people keen to watch the WWC and more generally women playing sport, we just needed to get places to show it!
Why do you feel, in 2019, women’s sports are still stalling when it comes to airtime?
Probably the patriarchy! A lot of sports bars aren’t purposely not showing Women’s sports, they just haven’t thought to. We think we’re at the beginning of a really exciting journey when it comes to Women’s Sports. We think that tennis is the one sports that is NEARLY there with equality (if you forget about the whole Serena pregnancy thing) and the amount of push that brands are giving to female sports right now is brilliant. We are hoping that our campaign will spotlight this and that we can keep momentum and get Women’s sports on TV during cricket, netball, cycling, basketball season and so many more! You name it, we want to see it shown!
Which venue was the first to agree to show the women’s football, and did it take a lot of scouting to get this response? How did it feel when you got your first “yes”?
We’d had a few automatic press emails (as you do in the creative industry) talking about the women’s world cup, we got in touch and that where all the conversations began. We started an instagram and started chatting to local female teams and it just grew from there!
So far, how many venues have agreed to screen the WWC?
We now have well over 100 pubs.. and counting! So many people DM us (both pubs and companies) letting us know who is showing the game - it’s so inspiring and keeps us pushing forward with the campaign
What do you find is the most effective way to get pubs, bars and local social hotspots on board with showing the Women’s World Cup? How can we infiltrate this in the workplace the same way men did with the 2018 World Cup?
Our community has played a huge role in helping us get pubs to change the channel – they’ve been out and about asking their local venues to play the games which is so great so hear! There are so many amazing young female football teams in London that have got in touch! Mundial Magazine got us on board with a takeover their doing in a pub in Homerton, theres such a community spirit in Women’s football!
We’ve also been emailing loads of breweries, pubs and different bar / pub associations to get the word out and recently, we partnered with DUSK (an app with all the best bars and pubs in London, Manchester, and Liverpool), giving them the facts about women’s sport coverage and encouraging them to turn the games on.
Watch a game with your work pals! Shout about us on Slack! We would love to work with groups on getting people together to watch the game!
What have some of your best and worst reactions been from venue hosts/landlords when approached with your campaign?
We haven’t had a single bad reaction. Everyone has been so supportive and helpful, all this positivity is just pushing us forward!
We saw the men’s World Cup unite a nation last summer - what do you say to football fans who aren’t sure they will be tuning in to this years World Cup?
I bet we can get you to CHANGE THE CHANNEL!
What can fans do to back your campaign and support your work?
Get in touch! We’d love to know where you’re watching the game, follow us @changethechannel_ post about us, tell all your pals, maybe even ask your local! Download DUSK and get free drinks from our CHANGE THE CHANNEL edit. You can also see the full list of locations on our website: www.changethechanneluk.com
What are your goals post WWC? Will you be incorporating other female sports in your future ambitions?
We’ve got huge ambitions for Change The Channel beyond the WWC… we’re only just getting started. Our main goal is to dramatically improve the coverage of women’s sport so campaigns like this aren’t needed at all.
Penalty Shoot Out time! You guys ready for some quick fire questions?
Which team do you support?
Kelsey: Local: DULWICH HAMLETS!!!! National: West Ham
Favourite female player?
Amelia: I love Lucy Bronze - I love the way her and Nikita move around the pitch, I love the passion she
brings and I love her attitude to football. She inspires me every time I hear her speak!
Most memorable footy moment:
Kelsey: Watching my boyfriend give a stranger a celebratory snog when England beat Colombia on penalties last year…
Odds on who’s going to raise the 2019 trophy:
Kelsey is English and Amelia is Aussie... WE CAN’T CHOOSE!
Huge thanks to Kelsey and Amelia for taking the time to chat to us! Be sure to follow their campaign here.