Lavender Baj is many things to many people. She’s a ‘media personality’ with 25,000 Twitter followers, a DJ, and she has also worked as a freelance writer, editor and producer - including helping produce the A-League Women’s DubZone this season.
She has become one of the voices of the women’s game on social media, helping promote the A-League Women’s and the CommBank Matildas.
“I just want to scream from the rooftops that football is for everyone,” she said.
“There has always been a tendency to gatekeep sport which makes it really hard for people who may not have followed it from a young age to come in without feeling totally out of their depth.
“I think this World Cup, and the Matildas specifically, is a perfect opportunity for people – particularly those who haven’t previously cared for football – to jump on board and enjoy the beauty of this game and this team.”
Football, and the football community, has become a huge part of her life.
“I love how it brings people together,” she explained.
“My dad loves football, his dad loved football, and his dad’s dad loved football. My whole family are coming to Sydney for the World Cup final and it has me so hyped to have that memory of watching a World Cup final with my loved ones.
“There’s something really beautiful about a bunch of people coming together for a common love of the game.”
In particular, she has a love of football fashion, claiming that she is rarely seen in anything other than a football shirt.
In her opinion, the kits that the CommBank Matildas will wear at the World Cup are fantastic.
“I absolutely love this one. It’s bright, it’s different, it embraces femininity and it puts the Matildas front and centre,” she said.
Unfortunately, having such a large platform comes with its pitfalls, particularly as a woman. Baj regularly has to deal with trolling and negative comments from people online.
She is philosophical, describing what comes with the territory of having a platform online.
“I have worked in video games, politics and music and faced the same sort of backlash,” she said.
“I think there’s a lot of fragility in sport, in particular, where men feel threatened by women and non-binary people pushing boundaries and making them have uncomfortable conversations about misogyny and other important issues.
“For so long, the space has been dominated by male voices, and those conversations have been pushed aside.”
However, there is hope. Baj describes the community of women in sport media as one of the most uplifting that she is a part of.
“It can be deeply intimidating, but finding your community within that space is absolutely invaluable,” she said.
“There is a strong circle of women in football/sport media who build each other up and protect each other… that community makes it so much easier to keep going on the days where it all feels too hard.”
Just like any other fan, she is looking forward to the FIFA Women’s World Cup that kicks off in July. There is one player in particular she is hoping to snag a photograph with.
“Alex Chidiac. She’s a gun on and off the pitch, I’m absolutely obsessed with her,” she gushed.
“After years in media I don’t really have fangirl moments anymore when I meet celebrities and famous people but I genuinely worry I wouldn’t be able to keep it together if we cross paths this World Cup. I just think she is so cool.”
Zooming out, she has big hopes for the future of women’s football – hopes that she plans to contribute to with her media presence.
“I just can’t wait to get to the point where it’s not men’s and women’s football anymore, it’s just football, and we treat it the same whether it’s men or women playing,” she said.
“We’ve seen such huge growth already but it’s only going to continue from here.”