Out of Left Field: Froth chats to AFL podcast team The Outer Sanctum about women, beer and sport

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The Outer Sanctum, based in Melbourne, made headlines when they broke the story of Collingwood president Eddie McGuire’s disparaging comments about sports journalist Caroline Wilson. Froth chats to Emma Race from the all-women podcasting team about sport, sexism and beer.

“I love beer so much!” says Emma. “My favourite beer is Stone & Wood.”

Despite her obvious good taste in beer, Emma joyfully admits that she also loves the beer that’s served at the footy. “I do drink beer when I go to the football. It’s such a treat, and I can’t imagine drinking anything else at the football! I like drinking it out of the plastic cups, I’m fine with that! I like the bars at the MCG – I’m an MCC member so I really like going into those bars there. They have lots of different beers on tap which is great!”

The Outer Sanctum podcasting team consists of six avid Hawthorn supporters – poet Alicia Sometimes, author Nicole Hayes, lawyer Dr Kate Seear, broadcaster Emma and her sisters Lucy and Felicity Race, whose two dogs are called Archie Thompson and Jarryd Roughead. They began the podcast in March this year, just before round 1 of the AFL season, and have so far recorded 15 episodes. “We just love each other’s company, so it’s a really diverse group of women and we all bring something different to the table.”

For a group of mates who got together just to talk footy, it’s pretty remarkable they’ve already broken a major news story. “Yes, it’s pretty strange!” laughs Emma, “and certainly not something we ever expected to do. We don’t consider ourselves news-breakers, usually we’re talking about which is the lucky toilet to use to make our team win during games, or other weird superstitions. But at the same time, issues regarding women, and more generally inclusion around the game of football, are a real passion of ours.”

Ice age humour: Collingwood president Eddie McGuire joked about drowning sports reporter Caroline Wilson. The Outer Sanctum brought these comments to the attention of the mainstream media.
Ice age humour: Collingwood president Eddie McGuire joked about drowning sports reporter Caroline Wilson. The Outer Sanctum brought these comments to the attention of the mainstream media.

Outer Sanctum chatted with Caroline Wilson in the wake of the Eddie McGuire scandal, in a podcast that goes to air today. “It was amazing to meet her and it will be really interesting to see how it is received. We had a really great warm and candid conversation with her about the role of women in reporting sport and just about the issues pertaining to being bullied in the workplace, and how to speak up and how difficult that can be in a predominantly male workplace.

“She’s certainly faced a lot of challenges over her career and it was really interesting to talk to her about them. But she retains her passion for football. We said ‘What makes you front up every day and still go to work even though you’ve been fighting these kinds of battles for a really long time?’ And she just said: ‘Because I really love the game.’

“It’s such a huge part of the culture and she just really loves telling the stories of it. And that kind of drives us as well. We love the stories of football, and we have always loved it, and we’ve really enjoyed the podcast because we get to talk about it and show a different side of what a fan can be. We’ve really tapped into an audience of women and men who like looking at footy the way we look at footy.”

Emma says that even though they have only been podcasting for a few months, they’ve been talking footy together for several years. “We talk through the game and we tweet when we’re nervous,” says Emma. “Someone said we should do a podcast and we all laughed but then two weeks later we started doing the podcast.”

There’s not a lot of diversity in sports reporting, despite The Age having several female sports writers including Wilson, Chloe Saltau, Sam Lane and Emma Quayle, while Neroli Meadows and Mel McLaughlin are well known faces on TV sports shows.

Emma agrees. “There is not a very diverse [range] of voices talking about the game. But I think podcasting really opens that up. There’s heaps of different AFL podcasts that are available, and we’ve enjoyed listening to lots of them. This year there’s been a real kickstarter on female-driven ones – there’s another podcast called This AFL Life which is hosted by girls who play in the VFL and could potentially get drafted next year into the women’s league; there’s another podcast called Follow Sports Like a Girl. Ours, we’re probably the oldest women doing a podcast on AFL footy and there’s six of us which makes it pretty unique. And we were the first all-female AFL podcast which we’re pretty proud of as well!”

As well as talking footy, Emma goes to games every week to watch her beloved Hawks. “I go pretty much every week. I’ll go interstate once a year to watch them, but I go to every game in Melbourne. I probably watch most of the games of the round every week, so I watch a lot of football!”

Emma says she and her sisters grew up with a love of AFL. “We don’t have any brothers but we are obsessed with the game and we’ve always loved it. We met the other girls because we all had a passion for Hawthorn specifically and for football generally. Nicole [Hayes] and Alicia curated a book of football stories called From the Outer: Footy Like You’ve Never Heard It from Black Inc Publishing. The book has all these stories by people who consider themselves an outside voice to football, so that was a bit of a catalyst for us to do the podcast. We liked the concept of people who aren’t normally heard of getting a chance to talk about the game.”

Despite discouraging incidents such as McGuire’s offensive remarks, Emma is optimistic about the future of her favourite sport. “These things will take some time, but there’s been such a huge shift in women having a role to play in terms of being on-field in the last year, that has been a really massive achievement. Given that the [women’s] league is going to start next year, I think that’s huge.”

The announcement of a women’s AFL league starting in 2017 is music to her ears, and she says there will be plenty of players to watch. There’s so many crackers coming out – the marquee players will be selected soon, who will be the fully paid players to play in the league. There’s so many that are awesome – we’ve spoken to Meg Hutchins and Katie Brennan on the podcast, who I think will end up playing for the Western Bulldogs and Collingwood, and they were just extraordinary women who are professional sports people who are really serious about what they do, they are really excellent footballers. I think there’s a lot to be excited about with those games.”

By Emily Day


Check out Outer Sanctum’s latest podcast featuring Caroline Wilson here