The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup is nearly upon us and as players, media and fans from across the globe make their ways to the cafes, bars and boulevards of cities across the breadth France, there will be natives of just 24 countries with dreams of seeing their side lift the trophy in Lyon come July 7th.
Every country’s path to the finals has been different. For some, like here in Scotland, it’s the first time around whilst for others such as defending champions United States and Germany their story can be traced back to the very first tournament in 1991. Irrespective of the journey’s taken associations, media outlets and independents alike have embraced the enthusiasm of fans across the globe to provide some of the most vibrant, innovative and meaningful content that a global competition has seen for some time. However, what if this is all new to you? What if – to begin with at least – you just need that one place to go to get your eye in ahead of what is shaping up to be the biggest Women’s World Cup to date? Well this year, just as at the last tournament in 2015, FIFA have allocated each nation an Official Team Reporter.
For Scotland, who are making their World Cup debut, the task in hyping us all up for the summer to come has fallen to Aileen Larkin and she kindly took some time out of her increasingly busy schedule to speak to Leading the Line about her role during France 2019.
Leading the Line (LTL): Aileen thank you for taking the time to speak to us, I suppose the best place to start would be to ask how did you end up with the role as Scotland’s Official Team Reporter at this summer’s World Cup in France?
Aileen Larkin (AL): I work in the FIFA Museum as the Social Media Editor, and have been working with the guys in Digital over the past year or so. When the job came up they knew that I would be enthusiastic about the opportunity, and they were right!
LTL: So, how did it feel when you found out that you would be following your country at their first ever World Cup?
AL: Extremely proud, and I was just a little nervous! This is a historic moment for women’s football in Scotland and to be able to take part in it is an absolute honour.
LTL: It sure is! What kind of things have you been involved with as part of the build up to the tournament?
AL: To kick off there was a workshop at FIFA Headquarters, where I got to know the rest of the team reporters and learn more about what the role would entail. I also went across to the training camp in Pinatar near Murcia, to meet some of the team and watch their matches against Chile and Brazil.
LTL: Have you had a favourite moment from covering Scotland so far?
AL: Absolutely. Kim Little’s goal to give Scotland their first senior victory against Brazil. It was an incredible moment, and while the crowd was quite small (the game was played in Murcia), and it was just a friendly – when the final whistle went you had the feeling that you had been part of something special. I think it was a real boost in enthusiasm before the World Cup.
LTL: Enthusiasm definitely seems to be spreading so what kind of things should we be looking out for you doing during the World Cup itself?
AL: I’ll be covering the team for FIFA, offering a slightly different perspective. So you’ll probably find me tweeting away behind the scenes as well as producing short blogs and interviews for the FIFA website. For each match FIFA provide a live blog which I will be contributing to along with my counterpart from the other team. This could be anything from tactical analysis during the match to giving a flavour of the atmosphere in the couple of days before. It will be very much a reactive role – so I’m looking forward to discovering exactly what that looks like myself!
LTL: Speaking of alternative perspectives it feels like this World Cup has ignited sparks of creativity across the globe, what’s been some of your favourite content from the past few months?
AL: Lewis Capaldi’s World Cup song was pretty delightful… Other than that I’ve been very impressed with the creativity and thought that has been applied to the squad announcements. Obviously resources differ between teams, but the general approach has been one of enthusiasm and passion and I think it has been very effective in drumming up excitement in the fans. The ad that Germany did was also pretty inspiring – I’d recommend checking it out ahead of kick off.
LTL: Each country has its own reporter, how do you all interact and have you learned anything from the shared experience that you didn’t know before?
AL: Well we have a whatsapp group where everyone chats and shares news. With all the time zones involved it’s pretty much buzzing at all times of day, but it’s always good chat. Some of the group were team reporters for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, so they know the script and have been super helpful in guiding the newbies. I’m learning something new every day and I think that will be the case until the end of the tournament. Don’t worry though – I’m making sure to teach them all a thing or two about Scotland while I’m at it…
LTL: Quality. If someone is reading this and is still on the fence about women’s football and supporting Scotland this summer what would you say to them?
AL: I would say that whatever your views on women’s football – this is a defining moment in history for Scotland. This is the first World Cup Scotland have qualified for in over 20 years and a first of all time for the women’s team. Imagine looking back in another 20 years and knowing that you had a chance to be a part of that and chose not to? Whatever happens in France, these women are making history. Their win against Brazil has shown they’ve got what it takes to do what’s never been done before, and now they’ve got a chance to prove themselves on the world stage.
LTL: Finally, we’re going to win it, right?
AL: Aye. Absolutely.
You can follow Aileen and all the things she gets up to in the build up and during the World Cup on Twitter, @FIFAWWC_SCO and of course you can follow me at @MFPTasty where I’ll be covering the tournament through a variety of sources both from here in Scotland and when I head over to France to see our girls take on the world.