In calling Socceroos matches, Anna Harrington is helping break down one of the last glass ceilings for women in sport
By
Ann Odong

Source:
Zela
29 Mar 2016 - 3:21 PM  UPDATED 29 Mar 2016 - 3:21 PM

It's game day and while many football supporters around Australia are pulling on their Socceroos jerseys and wrapping around their scarves, Anna Harrington is making her final preparations to call the play-by-play action of the Socceroos v Jordan on SBS Radio. 

"I've always had a head for statistics and facts, especially odd ones," she laughed. 

"I like to do plenty of research ahead of time – looking at the teams, players and league that I’m covering. From there, I find it all comes pretty naturally to me once I’m on air."

Since making her debut last year, Harrington has become an integral part of SBS Radio's commentary team - which includes former Socceroo Clint Bolton, Michael Tomalaris and Erdem Koç - for the Socceroos World Cup Qualifiers. 

That she is one of only a handful of Australian women to call men's matches in the football codes is evidence of the sporting glass ceiling surrounding one of the last bastions for women in sport.  

 

Making a statement was never the goal; instead it all came from a general love of sport.    

"I didn’t initially plan on becoming a match caller," she said. 

"I’ve always been someone who talks the whole way through sports matches and provides a bit of a ‘running commentary’ throughout."

"Since taking up football commentary in 2013, I’ve found that this is what I love and want to succeed in, so I’ve really invested my time and energy into improving both my play-by-play and analysis."

With a Bachelor of Journalism completed, Harrington found her start as a boundary rider in the Essendon District Football League.  Soon the occasional analysis wasn't enough for the sports fanatic who moved into special comments to be "in the thick of it." 

Like many in the game, Harrington's skills have been honed through years of volunteer work and on community radio.  Much of her reporting has been within football covering men's and women's State League matches for Football Federation Victoria and alongside Teo Pellizzeri through four seasons of "W-League Live". 

"Anna's professionalism is something that makes her stand out," said Pellizzeri of Harrington's evolution behind the microphone.

 

"It was pretty obvious from the beginning that she had the intelligence and work ethic to go on to big things."  

Match commentary has been a natural transition for Harrington, a self confessed 'football nerd'. 

"I just love talking about football and breaking the game down," she continued. 

"I love the analytical side of the game and how much it can differ from team to team based on tactics and personnel."

"With SBS, I’ve loved feeling like part of the journey with the Socceroos’ Road to Russia – I get to see what works for Australia, what doesn’t, which players are developing, or stalling, or starring and the way Ange Postecoglou deals with those different elements."

It's this professionalism and preparation that has seen her move into the SBS booth with little adjustment. 

"Anna had big shoes to fill replacing Glenn Osbourne but has fitted in seamlessly," said co-commentator Bolton.

"She's well researched, her call is in the moment, never feels contrived and her passion for football is undeniable."

As well as the Socceroos and W-League, Harrington is eager to add Matildas matches to her repertoire.  It's a professional ambition but also a personal one given how much time she has put into the women's game. 

"I’ve been really invested in the development of the national team and think they’re the next big thing in terms of Australian sport, firstly with their participation at the Rio Olympics but also looking towards future Women’s World Cups."

While her venture into football radio may not have been meticulously planned, it has certainly sparked ambition within the Victorian. 

"I want to take my commentating as far as I can."

"The prospect of calling a World Cup with SBS is something that really excites and drives me, because to me, that’s the pinnacle as far as football broadcasting goes."