Chatting Visibility and Empowerment with Pernille Harder and Magdalena Eriksson, Star Footballers of Chelsea FC
Ever wondered what two of football’s hottest stars think about visibility, representation and empowerment? I asked Pernille Harder and Magdalena Eriksson from Chelsea FC!
Breaking in personal bucket list news, consider a major item checked! Last week, I had the pleasure of sitting down with two of women’s football’s brightest stars: Pernille Harder and Magdalena Eriksson from Chelsea FC! You might recognize the pair from their viral moment a few years ago, but here’s some quick bio information about them for the newer fans among us:
Magdalena Eriksson is not only Chelsea FC’s captain; she’s also a World Cup bronze medalist, an Olympic silver medalist and Sweden’s 2020 Defender of the Year And if that wasn’t enough, she’s also got a pretty legendary left foot (take a peek here — you’ll see what we mean)! The decorated defender can play anywhere on the back line, and has started in more matches than any other player in the 2018/19 season.
Her teammate — both on and off the pitch — Pernille Harder is a more recent addition to ChelseaFC, after transferring from Wolfsburg (the most expensive signing in all of women’s football, FYI!). And with her lightening speed and incredible accuracy, the Danish forward is firmly established as one of Europe’s top female stars. Bonus fact: She’s also the captain of the Danish national team, and has won Denmark’s Player of the Year award no fewer than *six* times!
We know there are huge things in store for the power couple and their teams — and that they’re ready to meet every challenge head-on. We were able to catch up with the two stars and pick their brains a bit about the support (and visibility!) female athletes deserve, their dreams for the future of football, and why it’s so important to empower women:
“For me, it’s all about everybody being able to have the same dreams and the same opportunities to become whatever you want in life.”
– Magdalena Eriksson
We know that representation matters. And we know it’s a lot easier to dream big — and visualize yourself achieving those dreams — if you can see someone already out there making it happen. In this way, the sports world has a few significant bummers in common with other career and life arenas.
Whether it’s STEM, academia, the arts or so many others, there’s a serious lack of visibility of the women at the top of their game, regardless of the field they’re in — or on!
We know these amazing women are out there (and they’re totally crushing it!), but you might have no clue based off what you see when you click around on your phone or TV. In fact, there’s a huge media coverage and visibility gap in sports, where women make up 40% of all participants, yet only 4% of sports media coverage in the U.S., 7% in the UK, 15% in France, 7% in Australia, and 4% in Sweden. And all that needs to change!
We also know that visibility doesn’t only mean representation; it also means money, baby! As in, funding for salaries, facilities, endorsements, investments, coaches… So many of the things that would put the women’s game on par with the men’s, and mean a more equitable situation for the female athletes who make the game great.
And while there’s still a long way to go, there’s some encouraging movement on the proverbial pitch. Some major companies are starting to really see the value in women’s football, as well as its earning potential, and are working on changing the way the game finds its way to fans.
This means women’s football is going to be more accessible, and its players and coaches more visible, than ever before — hopefully inspiring the next generation of young female athletes, and putting the full (and untapped!) potential of women’s football on display for the whole world to see.
This is a powerful signal to the entire sports world — the athletes and their clubs, the fans, and potential advertisers and investors — that women’s football is a premiere sporting event, not a placeholder for men’s football. “It shows that they find the value in women’s football,” says Pernille Harder. It isn’t a hobby or an after-school activity; it’s a serious game played by some of the top athletes on the planet, who’ve mastered their craft — and it deserves to be viewed (and hyped!) as such.
For those of us who love sport, and who love to see kickass women getting their due and raising the bar, it’s worth taking a cathartic little moment here and thinking about one of the reasons women’s athletics is so empowering to watch. American footballer (read: soccer player, for our pals in the States) Abby Wambach and her wife Glennon Doyle had a chat about this on Glennon’s new pod. We’ll leave you with this snippet, as Glennon shares why she’s always moved when she watches the women’s national team play: