Updated: Nov 23, 2019
Being a foreign female journalist is not always easy especially in the world of football. I have encountered a number of hardships dealing with football stuff. Big clubs don’t take our channel seriously, most of long serving fans and fellow reporters treat me as a girl with no football knowledge (OK, very enough, I am not going to argue that I do…). But some clubs and their fans have given me a huge welcome maybe because I am unusually foreign and female. Swansea was one of these clubs.
It was in the summer 2011 when I visited Swansea, just after they were promoted to Premier League for the first time. The fact that the Swans were the first Welsh club promoted to this internationally known top league was driving the whole city to an upsurge of the premier feeling.
The hero of my story was Mike, who painted his house in Swans colours. When me and my crew arrived at his place, I could see through a car window a huge crowd gathering in front of his door. What is going on here? As soon as we stepped out of the car, TV camera was following us. Excuse me, we ARE supposed to be a camera crew, aren’t we??
So the story of us doing their story ended up in a local newspaper and Welsh TV show. I received a DVD later, but I had no clue what so ever they were talking about as it was in Welsh language. It’s usually me making the TV shows that they don’t understand what I am saying in Japanese! But anyway, it was quite funny to know the visit of Japanese TV crew was such a big event for this Welsh city. You can still read the South Wales Guardian article here. A friend of mine recently re-discovered this and sent me a link. It still makes me giggle, it’s a nice story…!
Welcomed by Mayor of Swansea who had kindly learned some Japanese phrases for me, beautiful voice of a male choir, and a big hug from Cyril the Swan, I was totally soaked in the Welsh spirit of Croeso (meaning ‘welcome’). I was truly grateful for the way they showed us ‘Swansea’ while we were there.
On the match day, I met an elderly lady at a little community club house where Swansea fans were assembling before walking into the stadium. Although she was in full gear of Swans kit, she didn’t quite fit in my image of football fans, so I talked to her. ‘I don’t understand the technicality of football, but I love football. It’s a great thing to do with my grandchildren and great opportunity to mingle with people in community. The club in our city is in Premier League, of course we support them!’ she said. It explained a lot what football means to the people here.
Whenever I have difficult time at work, I always remember the moments that I had in Swansea. I felt like connected with local people and felt like shared the feeling of the first Welsh club promoted to Premier League. It may not be easy now, but you will eventually meet the people who open their heart to you and share the true feeling of their life. That is still the motive of my story telling.