More than an Official Press Badge and Purple Wristband…
July 28, 2022
by Meghann De Jesus, Age 11
An official press badge. A purple wristband. These were just a few items giving me access to my very first National Women’s Soccer League game. It was also my first time covering a live sports event as a KidScoop Media (KSM) reporter. I have played soccer since I was 5 years old. Since I love soccer, my mom thought it would be a great idea for me to cover the May 29th Angel City FC versus NJ/NY Gotham FC game at the Banc of California Stadium. So, she signed me up for the experience with KidScoop Media. At first, I was not enthusiastic. To be completely honest, this was not how I expected to spend part of my Memorial Day weekend. I wanted to stay home, relax, and play with my friends online. More importantly, I had no journalism experience. How do you cover a sports event or even choose the right questions to ask with no experience?
When I arrived at the stadium, I met up with Michelle Mayans Fernandez, KSM’s Founder. We picked up my press badge at the credential pick-up tent. We then entered the stadium and went straight to the Press Room. I was astonished! The views of the stadium, soccer field, and Downtown LA were breathtaking. There was also a variety of food in the room which was a nice treat. I especially enjoyed the enchiladas, churros, and popcorn.
As I sat and waited for the game to start with a notebook and pencil in hand, I was amazed to see the all-female Highlight Pro Skydiving Team enter the field from the sky while the crowd cheered them on. Later, both soccer teams entered the field dressed in orange jerseys, the official color of gun violence prevention, to promote the cause. There was also a moment of silence as the two teams formed a circle in the middle of the field to remember the recent acts of gun violence. As I watched from the Press Box, I could hear the sounds of drums throughout the stadium as the match was about to start. I could feel the crowd’s excitement as they cheered during close calls and saves. I even found myself cheering for ACFC as I felt the fans’ energy throughout the game. I was so surprised at how many yellow cards were given out to Gotham FC during the first half of the game. I surely was not expecting those. The intensity grows during the second half. Gotham FC had scored a goal earlier in the game. ACFC was so close in scoring a goal, but Gotham FC’s defenders and keeper were strong and steady. The last 20 minutes were intense, and I was on edge like everyone else. I could hear the cheers getting louder with each of ACFC’s corner kicks and attempted goals. Both teams were fierce and played well. Gotham FC defeated ACFC (1-0).
During halftime, I had the opportunity to be interviewed by German Radio ARD. I was nervous because I had never been interviewed before. I was asked how I felt about the game and my prediction on the outcome. I was also asked how I felt to be the only kid reporter in the room and what my thoughts were on equality and equal pay.
At the end of the game, I was disappointed because ACFC lost, but my focus immediately shifted to the press conference. I was the only kid reporter in a room full of adult reporters. I was nervous yet excited to interview ACFC’s Coach Freya Coombe and Defender Jun Endo. I asked Endo, “you did amazing today. What was your highlight of the game?” With the help of a Japanese interpreter, Endo stated that she felt she could have played better and that she focused more on the positives and not the negatives. I appreciated how they answered my questions in a completely positive and mature way. As they answered my questions, I was happy to see them smile and even laugh a little. The interview went well and that it was a success.
There was so much I learned as an observer, a reporter, and even an interviewee. Soccer is not just a sport or a hobby. For many female athletes, it’s a career. ACFC and NJ/NY Gotham FC played for 18,784 fans. It felt good knowing that 1% of each ticket purchased was going directly to each player. The sports world is headed in the right direction towards sports equality and equal pay. By the end of the day, I felt a sense of accomplishment and appreciation for such an amazing experience. I took with me more lessons learned than when I first arrived. I look forward to many more press badges and purple wristbands to come.