Exclusive: Goal Click founder Matthew Barrett discusses disparities in women’s football

Following on from the first part of our interview with Goal Click founder Matthew Barrett, we continue to discuss the global storytelling project that features unique and powerful journeys.

Can you talk about disparities you have uncovered in women’s football through Goal Click’s work?

In 2019, the disparities we saw in the women’s game were really surprising. There were not just disparities between grassroots and elite games, but also within the elite game. The situation for the USWNT is a world away from say the Jamaican or Thai national teams.

There is much investment in women’s football in European leagues and the US. This is not always the case in developing countries — creating a world of two tiers.

Women’s football taking place in countries that are not powerhouses of the game can get left behind. This is definitely one of the prominent disparities.

College To World Cup

What has been your favourite country to cover women’s football in and why?

India — there are such amazing things happening right there in women’s and girls football.

We are working with a lot of great projects coming out of India right now. In particular, we worked with Yuwa in Jharkhand and girls from ‘The Rockstars’ team, who are real leaders in their community.

What is the reasoning behind using a disposable camera?

The tool of a disposable camera brings a level of equality, since each participant of the project uses the same starting place.

These cameras only give you 27 photos. This creates a scarcity, translating into the storyteller having to be intentional and deliberate about what they take. This means often the quality goes up because the photographers are thinking hard about what they want to show.

Finally, these cameras add a rawness and imperfection, making the photos feel authentic and unique. These cameras give a level of freedom and enable the production of very different kinds of photos. The nature of the people we work with, they are not professional photographers, and that is what makes these photos special.

How do you think the men’s World Cup in Qatar influenced women’s football in those regions?

The state of women’s football in Qatar particularly, and increasingly in the region, is improving. There is significant investment going into Qatari women’s football and that will hopefully spill out into the wider region.

Goal Click has been working in Qatar since 2019. There is a significant amount of opportunity for women and girls to play football there. It is not a society that is really restricting women and girls playing.

I can genuinely see a real legacy of more women and girls playing football in the region because of what has been catalysed in Qatar. About half of our stories in Qatar have come from a female lens.

However, not every not every country is moving at the same pace in that region. Qatar is quite far ahead.

There are some interesting developments happening in Oman and Bahrain. Saudi Arabia is investing in women’s football in a bigger way. Anyone in doubt, can go on to the Goal Click website and read the stories and make up their own mind.  

If Goal Click could be credited for an image in women’s football past or future, which would you have loved to capture?

The famous photos of women’s football teams in England in the 1920s, which were of course taken on analogue film.

They attracted huge crowds before the ban by The FA. Those are very powerful images. While they are historical images, they reflect issues that remain current.

For more information about Matthew Barratt and the Goal Click Project, visit their website here.

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