18 aug The Future of Women’s Soccer
The last year I was also working as a teacher for Fontys Hogeschol in Tilburg, where I was invited to lecture about Miss Marketing for the Minor: Create your Future. MY students where young ladies and gentlemen who are studying the subject communication sports and entertainment. In this semester we focussed on the Beneleague an international competition for women’s soccer. We are assigned by the Dutch Soccer Council to develop a scenario for women’s soccer in the year 2025.
Women’s soccer in The Netherslands has a special status. On the amateur level, women’s soccer is one of the fastest growing sports in the Netherlands. On a professional level unfortunately the situation is less optimistic. There is a lot of grumbling about the lack of quality, professional clubs that lack a clear policy on their female teams and the problem of a huge difference between the competing teams. We concluded in an early stage that it was not going to be a piece of cake to deliver an applicable and viable future plan for women’s soccer.
As a benchmark along the process we often referred to the succes of women’s hockey. With hockey the stadiums are sold out both for the male and female matches. Is this succes due to flexibility of the game, smaller playing filed, more switches to speed up the game. Or should we focus on other aspects and different stakeholders than than the sport itself. Shouled we create ladies events around matches, combining shopping with watching a match, should there be music and concerts to attract more female fans? Intersting questions, that all didn’t lead to the ultimate solution on how to make women’s soccer more popular and by that more profitable. Finally we knew what the problem was and of course it all started with mismarketing, the marketing aspect of women’s soccer that was struggling with a blind spot for the commercial opportunities of this phenomenon.
My personal vision on how to generate succes with women’s soccer starts with the sponsors, the big sponsors of the big professional clubs, like Afas, Opel and Aegon. The most important sponsors that in the gents league, but they seem to be absent when it comes to women’s soccer. When Ajax announced that the small company YourGiftcard would be sponsoring the ladies team I was in shock. Where was the big insurance company that also sponsors the male team. This is where their brand should be. 56% of all women are in charge of the financial decisions made within their household. Why should you attract another sponsor for the ladies team.
Most big sport sponsors, still don’t seem to know that women are the biggest economic engine of the moment, Womens soccer represents a multi billion dollar opportunity. A women’s league when properly financed will attract millions of female fans. Keeping in min d that for women sports are not all about the competion but about making connection, with the team, with other fans and with the sponsors. Those sponsors should be standing front in line to be part this great new competition. Together with the KNVB sponsors could build a new imperium and being first mover on the field
I know, yeah it is a big challenge because womens’soccer currently is no where near a perfect situation, but building it together and making a choice for women’s sport might be a rather interesting business opportunity. At least your chances of image damage will deminish since fans won’t tend smash each others brains out and muscle-building-drugs are far not as common in female sports. But building this new competition asks for a different focus a new perspective, simply because we can not copy paste the formula of males sports. It will demand different value feminine values and of course the guts to invest, pioneer and show leadership. It requires new perspective on the position fan engagement, because ego, idols and competition will be replaced by connectedness, teams and empowerment. I know it is a dream scenario, but so is the vicorie of the Dutch soccer team on Spain with 5-1.