2020 – The Year The Impetus Increased

In this second part of his review of the year on Impetus, site founder Ben Gilby focuses on October to December, months when the influence of one article on an Australian international transformed the site from one with a small but loyal UK based readership to one with a large global one. It was a period which led to a total site redesign and allowed us to form sponsorship and partnership deals with grassroots women’s football clubs and attract new contributors from across the world.

OCTOBER 2020:

The new month opened with a feature on Helston Athletic a club who thanks to some incredibly creative social media content, hugely talented players and coaches and a great relationship with the club’s men’s team are achieving great things. Our piece on the Cornish side who had a great run in the Women’s FA Cup this season can be read here.

Above: Chorley Women – a great story. Photo: John Shirras.

This was rapidly followed up by sharing the fantastic story of Chorley Women. A club who can boast a victory over Manchester City in their past and continue to overcome the odds in the National League Division One North. If you missed it the first time, be sure to catch up here: Chorley Women: Still Defying The Odds.

Then came the moment that Impetus was transformed from a women’s football site with a small UK based audience to one which is now read worldwide in ever increasing numbers. Over the weekend of 10th and 11th October, Australian superstar Sam Kerr came off of social media as a direct result in the ever growing amount of abuse she had received from some “fans” due to them believing she had not scored the number of goals that were expected of her.

This prompted us to write the piece Enough is Enough: In Defence of Sam Kerr and the response was phenomenal. Over a thousand views in the first 24 hours alone – which, within three days had ballooned to over 3,500 views – had seen the piece read in huge numbers in Australia as well as in the UK and Kerr’s previous club playing location of the USA. It was shared widely and we received private messages from a number of prominent players and coaches from women’s football which completely took us by surprise. If this was incredible, what was even more surprising was the fact that we have retailed a big number of these readers. Impetus now gets over 25% of its readership from Australia and large numbers of regular readers from the USA, Scandinavia and France.

Above: An article defending the social media abuse of Sam Kerr transformed Impetus from a site with a small UK based readership to one with a large number of readers around the world. Photo: Ben Gilby

As a result of these statistics, the site has thought carefully about how to cover the game more widely in the countries that our new readers are based in as well as maintaining our support for the grassroots of the women’s game in the UK.

We began an occasional series on the women’s game in Australia, starting with a two part interview with the Matildas Active Support group – whose members do so much to make Australia’s women’s football such a vibrant scene. Part One of the piece can be read here with Part Two available here.

NOVEMBER 2020:

November saw us welcome new contributor Jean-Pierre Thiesset. His weekly articles which review all the action in the French top flight of women’s football, D1 Arkema, have provided a new frontier for our coverage. In addition to this, Jean-Pierre’s in-depth feature articles which unpicked the challenging situation within the French women’s national team were enjoyed by a large number of readers: Sarah Bouhaddi’s interview with OLTV and Amandine Henry’s incendiary interview on Canal + being just two of them. He also gave us a wonderful insight into what a normal, pre-Covid matchday from a fan’s perspective at Olympique Lyonnais was like.

Above: Matchday at Olympique Lyonnais Feminin – new contributor Jean-Pierre Thiesset brought new colour to our coverage of women’s football. Photo: Jean-Pierre Thiesset.

Also on the site in November was a feature on Sutton United Women – a club who we were to form an exciting relationship with in the near future. We also had a chat with Coventry United General Manager Jay Bradford about her FA Women’s Championship club who are about to enter an exciting full-time future.

The second part of our occasional series on Australian women’s football saw a feature on newly appointed Matildas Head Coach Tony Gustavsson.

With the huge increase in traffic to the site, it was now apparent that the original Impetus website and design was now not the sort of look that we should be showing and so things changed. But before they did, we re-visited the first feature article that appeared on the site, on the Swedish then third tier outfit Älvsjö AIK FF Dam. They have a staggering story to tell and had also achieved some amazing things over the past twelve months which was worthy of sharing: Exceptional Alvsjo – A Year On.

NEW LOOK – LATE NOVEMBER 2020:

Back in August, the site had run a piece on Paige Walder and her Graphics by PW company – check it out here. Paige had secured a partnership deal with Lionesses and Chelsea star Fran Kirby and was producing some incredible women’s football artwork. We got in touch with Paige who not only agreed to re-design our logo, but would also provide the site with all future artwork in an official partnership deal – something which has enhanced the look of Impetus in a way we never thought possible.

With our new look arranged, the site’s growing audience enabled it to secure an exclusive interview with Hedvig Lindahl’s The One Goal charity as it was in the middle of its #ShirtsForGirls campaign, where fans could donate for the chance to win one of over twenty match worn shirts from some of women’s football’s biggest names. All proceeds would go to the girl’s academy of El Cambio Academy in Uganda. Our interview with The One Goal’s co-founder Daniela Porcelli can be read here.

Above: An exclusive interview with Hedvig Lindahl’s The One Goal charity kicked off the new look of Impetus. Photo: @hedvig_lindahl.

DECEMBER 2020:

The month started with an announcement of the first of a raft of partnership and sponsorship with grassroots women’s football clubs. Our first deal was arranged with Penryn Athletic Ladies FC, who play in the seventh tier Earthbound Electric Cornwall Women’s Football League. The partnership allows for monthly features on the club with various players and officials which will give readers a true behind the scenes picture on the reality of women’s football at the grassroots. The partnership was launched with an exclusive interview with Penryn Athletic’s Player-Manager Yaina Andrew.

Above: The first in a series of sponsorship and partnership agreements was announced at the start of December with Tier Seven side Penryn Athletic Ladies. Artwork: Graphics by PW.

With crowds allowed back into FA Women’s Super League grounds for the first time in almost ten months, we celebrated with our first ever interview with an international footballer. Sweden and Chelsea’s Jonna Andersson did a great piece with us about her footballing journey and is well worth checking out here – Jonna Andersson interview.

I was very fortunate that weekend to be one of only several hundred people allowed into Kingsmeadow Stadium for Chelsea v West Ham United in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League. It was a very different experience and one which prompted this article: Watching FAWSL Action in the Covid age.

Above: Jonna Andersson – the first international player to be interviewed by Impetus. Photo: Mia Eriksson.

A feature on tier seven club Brentford Women, who celebrated their thirtieth birthday in 2020 was followed by the welcome return of original contributor Daisy Wildsmith. Daisy’s piece entitled Not All Heroes Wear Capes, Some Wear Waistcoats was a thought provoking article designed to be a counter balance to the negative press that Lionesses boss Phil Neville had been racking up.

As we neared Christmas and the inevitable lockdown of much of the country, we needed some good news stories, and plenty were unveiled on the site over a two week period.

First there was an interview with Huddersfield Town Women manager Jordan Wimpenny about a club pushing for a place in the FA Women’s Championship next season with a superb player development pathway for girls as young as six.

Then, a flurry of announcements of extremely exciting sponsorships and partnerships with more forward looking and ambitious grassroots women’s football clubs.

First, with Wroxham Women of the fifth tier Eastern Region Women’s Football League Premier with whom we announced a Player Sponsorship deal with Harriet Meers and club Content Partnership. The arrangement means that, as well as monthly updates from Harriet Meers, a 20 year-old defender at the start of her senior football career, we will be catching up with other members of the squad, coaching staff and those responsible for the club’s girls development programme at Bury Valley Wildcats YFC. It will be a great chance for readers to find out what life is like at this level of the women’s game. The first feature article, introducing the club appeared on 23rd December – Wroxham Women Partnership.

Above: The second sponsorship deal saw Impetus become the sponsor of Wroxham Women’s Harriet Meers. Artwork by: Graphics by PW.

Christmas Eve brought about another major announcement – in partnership with the hugely respected women’s football site Since ’71, a Player Sponsorship deal with Sutton United Women’s Olivia Watson. Ever since our chat with the club’s founder Duncan Muller (see November), we had developed an increasing awareness of and respect for the great work going on at Gander Green Lane and had witnessed several matches that this club’s hugely promising young squad had played in the sixth tier London & South-East Regional Women’s Football League Division One North. The sponsorship of Olivia Watson, a 22 year-old attacking midfielder with huge potential will see us catch up with Olivia regularly to find out how things are going with her career and events round the club. The relationship is likely to grow to offer further content which will be of great interest to our readers.

Our overseas audience has also been catered for with the launch of a new weekly round-up of all the news from Swedish Women’s Football through new contributor @DandalBs and we are about to begin the most comprehensive coverage of Australia’s Westfield W League by any UK based women’s football website. This has been made possible by the introduction of new contributors Kieran Yap (who will report exclusively for us on at least one game per round) and Kris Goman (who will be sending us exclusive match photography from W League games). More detail can be read here. We will also be running the same weekly round-up of action from games that was so popular last season.

Above: A third Impetus sponsorship deal saw us team up with Since ’71 to sponsor Sutton United Women’s Olivia Watson. Artwork by: Angelo Tirotto.

As we enter 2021, we have many exciting features up our sleeve – from more grassroots club features and sponsorship deals to interviews with women’s club fan groups and an interview with another international woman footballer!

Our huge thanks for being part of the ever growing family of Impetus readers, contributors and sponsorship/partnership clubs.

The Impetus has grown rapidly – and it is thanks to YOU!

If you missed Part One of this review of the year, click on this link to read it.

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