“I am in education and sometimes you will hear little boys say that, and I pull them up and say, ‘Yeah, do kick like a girl,’ because it is a strong and powerful kind of thing; girls can play soccer too,” shared Nicole Blackett with The Inner Sanctum when speaking of her frustration about the stigma attached with women’s sport, even at a young age.
Playing in a historically great West Adelaide side in WNPL SA Season 2022, Blackett had a light bulb moment after being invited to Johnny Keko’s ‘Kickin’ It Local,’ a show that shares stories from local South Australian football.
While Blackett was sharing her own football story on the podcast, she identified there is a gap in the market for a medium to consistently share the stories of local female footballers.
Blackett admits it was something that had crossed her mind in the past, but after taking part in Keko’s show, where the host directly asked her if it would be something she would be interested in, it didn’t take long for her to make a move on her idea.
“There is no real voice for the local women’s football really, for the men’s NPL there are a few podcasts here and there in SA but nothing for the women, so I thought there was a bit of a gap there, and an opportunity to give females a voice. It kind of started the next week,” Blackett said.
Blackett emphasised that it is crucial that female players have a platform to share their stories because their circumstances are often vastly different from those of their male counterparts, feeling that if they are not voiced they can easily be ignored.
She used the example of Fiona Worts having to work at McDonald’s the year she won the Julie Dolan Medal, awarded to the best player in Australia’s professional women’s league, in order to make a living.
“The stories that you do hear, it is just important to share awareness about things such as pay gaps, inequality, and all sorts of things that females go through on a daily basis that people may not realise or know the impacts that they may have. It is all about spreading the word, supporting and celebrating women and their achievements, along with what they can achieve in the future as well,” she said.
“You had girls like Fiona Worts working at McDonald’s and she won the Julie Dolan Medal for the best player in the league two years ago. Just think how much better it could be if the pay was raised and women could devote their time to their football instead of their work that supports their living.”
Along with sharing important stories with a wider audience, Blackett has enjoyed sitting down and speaking with friends at a deeper level. She admits hosting her own podcast has led her to delve into detailed research for all of her guests, as well as she may sometimes know them, sharing that she puts in two hours of work into every guest before an episode is recorded.
The care and attention to detail Blackett puts into her podcast ensure that listeners do not just get the story of the footballer, but of the people outside of football which Blackett views as just as important.
Just over a year into hosting her show and having a diverse mix of guests, such as Matilda Charli Grant and Adelaide United Strength and Conditioning coach Eleni Vosnakis, Blackett could not pick her favourite chat but highlighted the episodes she recorded with Racheal Quigley and Emma Checker as quintessential examples of the struggles women face in the world game.
The two South Australians have represented their National Team on different levels while also combining to play for clubs in Australia, Asia, Europe, and North America but they have faced their fair share of difficulties and adversity which they shared on Blackett’s ‘Kick Like A Girl’ podcast.
“Probably the first one with Racheal Quigley, it is a longy, about 90 minutes, but she has had an exceptional career and she has played in a few different continents. Emma Checker was an interesting one as well, speaking about her struggles overseas and things that she has had to overcome, they are all good listens and it is hard to choose just one,” she said.
Moving to Melbourne in 2023 has not only meant that Blackett has needed to transfer from West Adelaide to Heidelberg United, she now has her eyes on building a viewership in Victoria and beyond.
“Now I am in Melbourne so I’m wanting to move to a different target audience in the Victorian league, but also keeping in touch with the South Australian league,” Blackett shared.
“I just want to try to spread it a little bit more and hopefully grow it in the process, but yeah, I get a lot of positive feedback from people saying they’re enjoying the podcast and just seeing people listening to it is awesome. Even if it was 10-15 people I wouldn’t care, but I am fortunate enough to be getting some good views so I am stoked.
“What I’ve also started to do is watching the episodes over and clipping things out that I almost forgot about because it has been a year! I have found a few interesting clips which are in my drafts that I will be uploading as reels on Instagram.”
Blackett is doing her bit to share stories from the women’s game and like everyone in the football world, she is excited for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup and the potential effects it may have on football in Australia.
Obviously excited for the women that make the final cut to be in Tony Gustavsson’s World Cup squad, Blackett also shared a similar sentiment about an expected rise of participation numbers, predicting a sad reality about many young girls in their formative years remains a thing of the past.
“If you go back 20-30 years ago, even more recently, a lot of my guests say they used to play in a boys’ side, I don’t think that is going to be a thing anymore,” she said.
“Clubs are starting younger than before for girls and it is just growing and growing. For young girls to be able to go and see players like Sam Kerr and all these other great players will just help extend and grow the game even more, it is very cool.”
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Blackett is hoping that this World Cup not only proves to be an inspiration and a game-changer for up-and-coming women’s footballers, but also a mindset reset for the groups of people that look down on women’s sports.
“I hope it helps people become more open-minded and to get out, watch and accept women’s football and where it is and where it should be,” she said.
Hopefully also closing the gap a little bit more, because even then you still hear comments and things on social media where some people think it is all fun and games when speaking about the women but I think this World Cup is going to squish those egos. I am just hoping it will open some minds and get some more fans on board.”
Whether it is on the football field, in the classroom, or behind the microphone, Nicole Blackett continues to add positivity to the women’s football landscape and is helping make the phrase “kick like a girl” the compliment junior footballers are hoping to receive and not the blow in confidence it has been for so many throughout the years.
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