The first football journalism degree course in Britain is offering three full scholarships to female footballers, in partnership with Derby County Ladies.
Derby University broke new ground two years ago when it launched the specialist new course.
This latest initiative is intended to attract practising women footballers. They would combine the journalism degree with playing for Derby, who are bidding to become a semi-professional second division side
Senior lecturer Peter Lansley came up with the idea after he was challenged to find innovative ways to attract more women on to the course.
He said: “They will get all their strength and conditioning, all the sports science, through the university; they will basically be semi-professional but on my course.
“So it will boost women in sports journalism, it will boost the profile of women’s football, it will boost standards at Derby and we can start helping the FA’s participation figures in our own little way.
“I do actually think it’s a big deal. We’re the only football journalism undergraduate course and are interested in trying to promote women in football, both in terms of playing and in terms of journalism.
“We’re striving to redress the gender imbalance in sports reporting – recent research indicates that only 1.8 per cent of sports bylines in national newspapers were for women.”
The lucky trio will join a course which has already set the bar high. Gareth Southgate, Jacqui Oatley, and Times football correspondent Henry Winter are just three high-profile guests who have been to the university to speak to the students.
Successful candidates for the course in September 2018 will have their £9,250-a-year fees paid. They will have to show they are good enough to play for Derby, be academically bright enough to qualify for the course and promise to play for the university team. Ucas deadline is Januay 15.
‘Last summer students on the course travelled to the Netherlands for three weeks to report on the Women’s European Championship for outlets such as the Daily Mirror, the Manchester Evening News and Sky Sports News’
Lansley, who continues to work as a freelance journalist, added: “What I’m hoping is it will have a cascade effect. Derby are out scouting and have their eyes open for players who would suit the programme.
“If, say, 12 apply for it, three get the scholarship and the others just miss out, well I might still get eight women on the course instead of four.”
Last summer students on the course travelled to the Netherlands for three weeks to report on the Women’s European Championship for outlets such as the Daily Mirror, the Manchester Evening News and Sky Sports News.
Duncan Gibb, chief executive at Derby County Ladies, said: “It should provide us with three high-standard players on an annual basis that will allow them to not only slot seamlessly into the first team squad immediately, but enhance it.
“We are hopeful of attracting players currently operating at Women’s Super League level, who will view the securing of a full scholarship on the Football Journalism course as a real opportunity for them to progress a full-time career within the industry, while continuing to develop as players at one of the most progressive and ambitious women’s clubs in the country. It’s been imperative that we got this partnership right, to ensure that prospective players secure a high-quality student, and playing, experience for their three years in Derby.”
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