We’re tired. We’re tired of skimming through soccer news and reading men’s bylines, seeing men’s faces, hearing men’s voices. We’re tired of women asking the questions of soccer experts, of women literally standing on the sidelines, of women being called upon only when a sexist scandal has broken, of trans persons and queer individuals being used only to comment on oppression. We’re tired of simply accepting the statistics that reveal women hold approximately 10% of sports media jobs.
We bet you’re tired too. You’re tired of seeing the same names circulating across the web. You’re tired of hearing the same voices when you turn on the TV. You’re tired of being forced to pretend only 10 clubs exist, of having to use Google Translate to read about global soccer, of having to accept the current standards of the soccer industry.
We’re tired of being tired. So we’ve set aside our exhaustion, funneling our energy into this very project. Unusual Efforts, a brand-new website with a magazine to follow, produces engaging, entertaining, and enlightening soccer stories for everyone. The twist? Everything you see here is produced by women, trans or cis, and non-binary people.
We realize that oftentimes, sexism in the soccer industry is not overt, but rather a byproduct of networks stemming from the days in which asking a woman to explain the offside rule was considered acceptable. Our hope is that Unusual Efforts will provide the tools to expand these networks, redefining the commonly held image of the “soccer expert”.
This is not a competition. We’re not looking to take over the world. We want YOU, yes, you, the head of a major sports outlet, the editor of an impressive daily, to come to this site to discover the talent that is on offer. We want to demonstrate that you do not need to choose the same voices to tell the same stories. We want to prove that the world of soccer media would be infinitely richer when diversity is increased.
In the future we plan to provide forums to facilitate networking and the exchange of ideas, an online store where contributors may sell their work, and a mentoring program to assist aspiring creatives. We also dream of expanding into other sports, as gender inequality is by no means limited to soccer media.
Our authorship may seem unique, but it is representative of marginalized soccer content producers, everywhere. Unusual Efforts’ contributors are diverse in terms of race, sexual orientation, class background, geography, area of expertise, and yes, even gender. However, they all have one thing in common: they all know how to tell a damn good story about the beautiful game.
While toiling her way through law school, Kirsten co-founded a blog about Aston Villa and spun her ever-abiding love for Marek Hamsik into her first professional writing gig. Her personal infatuations may seem strange to others, but she was lucky enough to have a mentor who believed she was talented enough to write about soccer. That belief helped fuel her career in soccer writing. She wore hat after hat at SB Nation Soccer, wrote and edited for Fusion’s SoccerGods, and has contributed to NBC Sports and ESPNFC. While her jobs have often been a joy, she’s encountered many of the stumbling blocks that often trip up women in soccer media. Unusual Efforts was born out of the idea that those blocks need to be removed. In creating the site, Kirsten hopes to both expand gender equality in soccer media, and to be the mentor she herself was fortunate enough to have.
Condemned as an Udinese supporter since birth, Sonja’s love for the beautiful game has turned her into both a masochist and a megalomaniac, depending on the day. When not being self-deprecating and/or self-righteous, she types, talks, and tweets for various soccer outlets around the globe. This includes (but is not limited to) publications for The Guardian, Metro UK, and Global News and features on the BBC, beIN Sports, and Forza Italia Football. She has also acted as a consultant for various soccer-related books and anonymously tweets for Gazzetta World. In her spare time, Sonja is running a (un)successful campaign to become the next FIFA President.
Not a journalist by trade, the trilingual Elizabeth Cotignola is an attorney in Montréal, Québec. Born and raised the child of Italian expatriates in ‘la belle province,’ she began her career in Chicago before returning home to Montréal, where she now advises one of the world’s leading aerospace innovators on compliance with export controls and economic sanctions. When she’s not lawyering, she enjoys yelling about A.C. Milan, the Montreal Impact, and her beloved Azzurri to anyone who will listen. Occasionally; she writes something other than tweets; she has previously contributed to A Football Report, Kickette, Futbolita, Soccer Gods, The Soccer Wire, SB Nation, and XI Quarterly. No stranger to donning stilettos in a world historically dominated by suits, she opted to join Unusual Efforts in order to put her skills as an advocate to innovative use.
Van Hong is an illustrator, designer and printmaker based in New York, who creates art with a focus on soccer. Her work includes portrait series of the U.S. Women's National Team, New York Red Bulls and Tottenham Hotspur. Additionally, she has drawn live action sketches during several games in Canada during the 2015 Women's World Cup. Most recently, she has created ball maps of English Premier League games, which are diagrams tracking the movement of the ball over the duration of match. She administers soccer artist collective Wundergol and is a regular contributor to online publication Sula Collective.