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Article  •  13 September 2022

 

How Kristin Darell tapped in to her love of sport while writing her new book

We talked with Kristin Darell to learn all about Football Fever 1: The Kick-off.

Football Fever 1: The Kick-off is the first in an eight-book partnership with Football Australia ahead of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup™. The series peeks into the wonderful world of football to excite young readers in the lead-up to the tournament, which will be hosted by Australia and New Zealand next year.

Not only will the series get young readers excited about the sport, but it will also get sporty kids reading. Featuring players from the CommBank Matildas and Subway Socceroos, the publishing program includes junior fiction, non-fiction, board books and a picture book.

Football Fever 1: The Kick-off is the start of the junior fiction series, which follows one soccer team and their journey to a (hopefully) fruitful season.

To learn more about it, we chatted with the journalist, and author of the book, Kristin Darell.

Read on to learn about her research process while writing and find out how sport has personally impacted her.

Researching the book

As you might guess from the book’s title, Football Fever 1: The Kick-off is all about football.

But though you might presume that the author is a football player herself, that’s actually not the case. ‘While I’ve been involved in a lot of club sports – netball, softball, basketball, tennis – I’ve never played football and neither have my daughters,’ says Kristin. Unable to rely on first-hand experience, she instead used her journalistic skills to deep-dive into the sport.

‘I went back and thought about what I did as a journalist to learn about a sport that I didn’t know a huge amount about and then did the same thing,’ she explains. ‘I researched the team members . . . I looked at them on social media, and I read about them on the team's websites. I looked at their backgrounds, I looked up their stories on fan pages or football pages. I have saved so many articles and videos! And then I took lots of notes.’

In addition to familiarising herself with the players, Kristin also tried to understand the sport from a player’s perspective. By attending club football games and speaking to friends who coach, she was able to figure out the little details that made the book feel authentic. ‘I went to some friends who coach club sports to figure out things like how a football game starts.’

‘All of those skills that I built as a report and producer – when you’ve only got a matter of hours to become an expert on any subject – I applied all of those techniques, and I don’t think I could’ve written the books as well as I have if I wasn’t able to do that.’

While nothing beats first-hand experience, Kristin also has participated in several club sports over the years, as well as skiing, which helped inform the camaraderie she wrote about in the book. ‘I applied all of those feelings that I know you feel being a part of a team,’ she explains, ‘and then it was just the specifics of the different sport that I had to get my head around.’

The power of sport

While Kristin’s research allowed her to portray the technical details of football in an accurate, believable way, it was her own personal love of sport that gives the book an authentic feel.

One memory, in particular, stands out to her when she thinks about the best moments she’s had whilst playing on teams. ‘One of my favourite sports in high school was basketball,’ she shares. ‘We had a girls team and a boys team, and we would assistant coach each other’s teams. . . we had this really great interaction across the whole lot,’ she recalls. ‘I remember feeling this incredible sense of camaraderie . . . you had to build your skills but you achieved as a team.’

Today, Kristin has passed down her love of sport and the value she gets from it to her two daughters. By joining a Taekwondo team, her girls have also discovered the physical and mental benefits of sport. ‘In Taekwondo . . . they are working on an individual journey, but they’re part of a team,’ Kristin says. ‘I really believe there is a sport for every kid. My girls are not naturally sporty kids, but they’ve still found something that’s physical, mental, emotional, and they’re part of a tribe.’

All of these are benefits that Kristin has captured in the book. ‘Being a part of a team is so important. Even if you’re not the best.’

If young readers take away one thing from the book, Kristin hopes that they can understand the magic of ‘joining a team and finding that when you have a common thing that you love, you’re more likely to find your tribe. You’re more likely to find the people that get you and are like you, who you don’t have to try too hard around.’

 

Ready to read it? Check out Football Fever 1: The Kick-off.

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Football Fever 1: The Kick-off
Everyone’s got football fever!
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