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Goal Diggers: ‘An unapologetic, safe space for women like us to voice their opinions’

I co-founded Goal Diggers, along with my best friend, Anita Abayomi, whom I’ve known since I was 11 years old. We had more in common beyond being Chelsea fans and black women: we had also found that when we voiced opinions on football, we got shot down.

Initially, we had considered a YouTube channel, but the emergence of podcasts led to us starting our own in 2019. At this time, we were seeing the beginnings of change in the football industry, as it tried to shed itself of a racist, sexist past.

We set out to create an unapologetic, safe space for women like us to voice their opinions, free from fear of hate.

The first episode aired in February 2019. Today, we work across several platforms. We’ve done live shows on YouTube, where we’re about to hit 2,000 subscribers, we’ve got 4,500 followers on Twitter, more than 1,000 on Instagram, more than 300 on SoundCloud and over 800 on Spotify.

We also use Apple and Google platforms. The aim is to make our content as convenient and accessible as we can.

The first episode immediately grabbed attention, with 20,000 streams on SoundCloud. Various media outlets, such as Metro and Bleacher Report, took an interest, along with major football clubs such as Bayern Munich — all within three months of launching.

We also had an audience of more than 100 turn up to a live podcast show we recorded at Gigi’s Hoxton in Shoreditch. The response was overwhelming.

Since then, we have been nominated by the Football Black List awards in “The ones to watch” category and the Sports Podcast Awards for “Best equality and social impact podcast”.

We have also had interest from brands such as Adidas, Nike and Pepsi. We’re currently working on a sponsorship deck, as funds would enable us to afford better equipment.

Up until now, we’ve been entirely self-funded, so it would also enable us to increase the amount of content and events we can produce.

Our recording sessions typically last two hours on a Sunday evening; often after a game and typically between eight and 10 pm. I then edit and prepare release material before going to bed around one or two am.

I’ve managed to maintain these late nights, thanks to belief in what we are doing. Plus, I’ve always been creative and so I was able to transfer many skills — from editing audio and video to creating our logo.

Three years in, our plans are to grow not just nationally but also internationally. We’re currently preparing a documentary about our growth, and we have listeners around the world.

It’s nice for young women to be able to watch a group they can relate to, talking about a shared passion — and a game that should be open to everyone.

There is no mercenary incentive behind any of this. It’s truly a passion project. We currently have about 10 volunteers, all of whom are women who are keen to make a difference and who contribute each week.

We each support different football teams and have various opinions — and that’s OK. We are focused on providing a safe space for conversation.

Meanwhile, my job is full time and I’m about to start a masters, too — a leadership and management course at Cranfield University. But somehow, I manage to get enough sleep.

I think this is because I’m organised. That said, when I look back on our first year of the podcast, when I was still commuting and needed to set my alarm at 6am on a Monday, I sometimes don’t know how I did it.

I know I would wear my headphones and avoid talking to anyone until at least 11am that day.

We do get some negative comments, like “Get back in the kitchen!” or about the colour of our skin but we’ve learnt to develop a thick skin. If anything, this abuse pushes us on.

If I were to quit, I’d feel we were giving in to hate. Several times we’ve had to report accounts. Sadly, we’ve found they don’t get blocked.

Initially, too, I didn’t envisage having to manage a team of 10. In my job, I manage a similar-sized team. What I’ve found works is having a schedule.

My approach has always been very process-driven. This makes lives easier and enables you to spot any cracks as they emerge.

I’ve also learnt how to stay calm and not to stress about things I can’t control. I have lots of ambitions and dreams I hope to fulfil by the time I am 30.

Fortunately, the agency I work for has been really supportive. I’m an operational account director and my key responsibilities are project and resource management and client relationships.

The skills I’ve developed both outside and within work complement one another. We are so grateful for all the support we’ve received.

Brigitte Sesay is a Operational Account Director at RAPP UK

This article originally ran in Campaign in April 2022



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