Miriam Walker-Khan: Sports Reporter/ Writer/ Podcaster

1. What does football mean to you on a personal level?

To me, football is pure, true sport. My Dad played and I’ve got five brothers, so football was just always there growing up. I think I associate it with memories and the feelings evoked by those memories, even years later – whether it’s those days when you’re allowed to watch England play in the World Cup instead of doing maths, or as an adult, stood in the middle of a pub getting beer poured down your back after one of the most tense penalty shoot-outs in English history. It’s just always there like a friend you can chat to for hours even if you’ve not seen them in years. One of my favourite childhood moments was when my school team made it to the English Schools semi-finals when I was 10. We went on the local radio, we got a special presentation at school – it felt like we were little local celebrities and everyone was so proud of us – some people were just amazed that a group of young girls were playing the sport at all. So on a personal level football is about teams and people and the love that can come from how unifying the game is.

2. Sum up some of the top line issues with modern football culture

My least favourite thing about football culture is the fact that so many football spaces have become cesspits of racism, sexism and homophobia and a lot of people who love the game don’t feel safe or comfortable in them. I don’t personally feel that comfortable going to watch men’s games, which is why women’s football has been so important to me the older I’ve got. It really feels like a space for everyone to just enjoy the football rather than at men’s games, where you could get harassed or abused just for existing and being a bit different to what people think a football fan should be. It still baffles me that certain groups of people don’t realise that football isn’t their game – it’s for everyone.

3. If you could change one thing about the industry what would it be?

In an ideal world, all sports industries would be more diverse. Whether that’s socio-economically, ethnically. Right now, the industry doesn’t reflect the population or fans, or just the normal people! And there are major issues that come with the fact that people don’t feel represented, or even worse, they feel misrepresented. The media especially has so much responsibility to tell stories properly and get things right – I think we often underestimate the power of the media and how often we have the ability to shape narratives, which can be great but also worrying when people get it wrong it and don’t understand the people whose stories they’re telling. So the more diverse the industry becomes, the more perspectives, points of view and ways of thinking we have to tell stories.

4. What is the future of woman’s football?

The future of women’s football is EXCITING! And hopefully… limitless. And equal. But importantly, different to the future of men’s football! The games are different and we should appreciate that rather than fall into the trap of comparing them.

5. Can you give any advice to the younger generation on how to break into the industry

Be bold! Have confidence in your ideas, your perspectives and your lived experiences. They are all so, so important and make you who you are. Back yourself without changing yourself. And also, think about what you really want to do and how you can get there – the industry is competitive and that means you have to work really hard. But it’s worth it in the end because when you’re doing something you love, it never feels like work.

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