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BFW Exclusive: Taking women’s football to the Tube - Interview with YouTube channel KICKiT

A unique channel run by three young women, KICKiT is fast becoming the forerunners of women’s football in South Korea, and BFW thought it was high time they got some overseas attention as well.

Women’s football is fast becoming a sporting norm all around the world. With more and more European clubs investing in women’s teams, the female game is growing quicker than ever before. Take Bayern Munich’s women’s team, for instance — they’ve enjoyed quite a bit of success over the past few years, especially when they won the Frauen Bundesliga just last season. Likewise, women’s football is gaining more attention by the day, and more people are moving to raise awareness for the game.

Enter KICKiT. The South Korea based YouTube channel first kicked off (literally) in 2019, and has gained quite a decent following ever since. Three Yonsei University graduates in Kim Seonkyung, Lim Seonyoung, and Ohm Dayoung got together one day and started filming their passion of football for the community at large to see, and it’s paid off. They’ve been posting regular videos of them going to games to watch women’s football, playing with different people, and offering tricks and tips for women just starting to play themselves. We’ve seen countless channels do the same for men’s football, but how many of them really do it for the women’s game? It’s a channel like no other, and our own Teddy Son was lucky enough to sit down with them and have a chat about modern women’s football, and what can be done to make it bigger than it already is.

BFW: How did KICKiT get into football in the first place?

We all started at different times, depending on what kind of experiences we had when we were young. When we came to college, our footballing years really started to kick off, mostly because there was a girls’ football club at our university, and we got to meet each other and start playing. We also happened to take over the hierarchy of the club itself, captain, vice-captain, and PR leader, so we started to organize a lot of events, and once we neared graduation, we got the idea to start a YouTube channel. But back then, it wasn’t really about work, it was more about just having fun and making memories and putting them online.

By the way, “우승” means “Winners.”

BFW: There are more and more European clubs investing in women’s football. Would you say this is the new norm, or just a test to see how profitable the market is?

If you’re investing that much money into a particular field, then it’s about a lot more than just testing the market. As Europe has started to tap into a market that was dominated by the US and Asia, the women’s football market has grown quite significantly. I think this means that the footballing industry has recognized the longevity and value of women’s football. With the global society pursuing values such as equality and diversity, it’s only natural that women’s sports will also find that room to grow.

Is women’s football profitable? I don’t think that question can be answered that easily, since professional sports are judged solely on profit, but amateur sports, where you can actually take part in, not so much. But what I would say is that women’s football does have one advantage over men’s football: it’s untested. Men’s football is already an immense market, and one that’s already been proven to be profitable. Women’s football, on the other hand, has yet to be really tested, so it has the potential to grow beyond what it is now. This isn’t just about football, it’s about women’s sports in general, with the numbers of people who watch and play growing by the day. Whether this will turn into permanent profit remains to be seen, we’ve seen companies like Sky and DAZN come in, and seen professional leagues kick off in the likes of England and Japan, so we’ll have to see how much this investment in these countries pays off.

BFW: Which Korean players would you say could make it overseas (Bayern Frauen keep your eyes open!), and are there any young exciting talents who can take over the world game?

In Korea, we’ve had a couple of cases that could have been really big. For one, Jang Selgi (Incheon Hyundai Steel Red Angels) once dreamed of playing for Real Madrid, and she actually did play for a team in Madrid(Madrid CFF). But sadly, COVID hit and she had little choice but to return to Korea. She’s definitely a player who could make it on the big stage. Nowadays, Kang Chaerim is also an up and coming talent, although she’s injured at the moment.

Overseas, now, this is where it gets a bit tricky, because there aren’t that many players who seem like they can really take over the mantle from the current big names. If you look at the USWNT, you still have 30-something year old players like Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan playing, with little talk of replacements. Perhaps our Korean starlets can rise and shine in these times, but it’s not just about how talented a player is, it’s about how much the industry can take care of them, how much it can support a player’s potential, and it’s not at that level yet, so we’ll have to wait and see.

BFW: What can be done on a national and personal level to make women’s football more accessible?

It’s a bit hard to answer the ‘national level’ part, because if you look at Korea, there are talks about supporting and investing in women’s football all the time, especially if there’s a new federation president or something. But in reality, very few attempts have been made to actually act on those words, so I think it’s all about taking those talks forward and really pushing forward, then we’ll see at least some bit of change.

One possible way is to introduce football to girls at a young age. For example, the Korean Football Association and the local school districts are partnering up to start footballing programs in schools. In Japan, local sports are extremely developed, because children can experience a wide variety of sports, to the point that almost every child has a sport he or she specializes in, but in Korea, that barrier is currently too high, so if the children can get more easily exposed to sports, and get the chance to think ‘hey, I’d like to give football a try,’ then it’d become easier to lower said barrier.

KICKiT at Incheon United’s home ground.

BFW: There aren’t that many female football YouTube channels. What is KICKiT’s mission statement being one of the few that exist?

We were some of those cases that we wanted to play football, but we couldn’t really do so because the environment around us simply didn’t support it. I feel like if there was a bit more media attention around girls playing football, we could have watched and thought, ‘yeah, I’m allowed to have fun and enjoy this sport.’ So our aim is to allow people to watch our channel and let them think that football is for anyone, regardless of your gender or your age or whatever.

Of course, women’s football isn’t really a big keyword in the media nowadays, but we’re aiming to change that and let people see that this is fun, this can be enjoyed by so many people, and just give that positive input to people. And, if more and more people watch our content, not just the children who would like to play football but their parents as well, since they’re the ones who are responsible for leading their kids in a certain direction, so we think it will help to change the awareness of women’s football in the society as a whole.

BFW: What does the future of women’s football look like?

Women’s football is a market that is only going to get bigger, because football is the world’s most popular sport, and although it’s not the same as men’s football, it’s still the same sport. Not only is KICKiT a part of that trend, but we’ve also seen television shows cover women’s football nowadays as well, in legacy media, so we hope that this new trend will fuel a society in which women’s football is seen as natural, and not something out of the ordinary.