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Thursday, December 3, 2020

FIFA cards made for Western athletes

As the Western Washington University soccer team prepares to play in their upcoming season, they are introduced by individually made FIFA cards.

One of the player cards produced, athlete is Drew Farnsworth. Photo by Jeff Evans.
One of the player cards produced, athlete is Drew Farnsworth. Photo by Jeff Evans.

By Ryan Myrvold

While Western Washington University’s men’s soccer team may not be greeting their crowd of excited fans at Robert S. Harrington Field this year, Westen athletics found a new way to introduce the soccer team.

Jeff Evans, the communications director for Western athletics, worked with the soccer team coaches to create new FIFA cards to introduce the team.

Each card features an individual player’s photo, the flag of the state or country they are from, the player’s stats — such as dribbling and passing abilities — and the crest of their previous soccer team if they were on one.

Evans said the statistical grading system for the cards are meant to complement the players and introduce them in a new way as opposed to strictly gauging each player’s skill level.

“The idea wasn’t to grade the players,” Evans said. “It was, more or less, to introduce them and to have fun with them.”

The Western athletics Twitter page began to post these cards during the week of Oct. 19 and most recently shared on Nov. 2.

“I’m trying to do something a little bit different for each program,” Evans said. “My goal is to keep our story alive and keep the conversation going because we’re not playing games.”

Evans has done several projects to show what is going on for student athletes such as his “What’s In Your Bag?” podcast, in which members of Western’s golf team share what clubs they use.

Drew Farnsworth, who has played on the soccer team for three years as a midfielder, said he appreciates how the cards highlight individual players and feature their unique styles.  

‘It’s definitely a bit of fun looking at people’s stats,” Farnsworth said. “Obviously, it’s not a reflection of how you are as a player, but it’s definitely good to give some sort of an idea of what attributes you’re kind of good at.”

Kelli Rodriguez Currie, who holds a master’s degree in sports administration and leadership and is an adjunct professor at Seattle University, said this project is a unique way to reach and engage with the team’s fan base.

“Most sports organizations work on a really lean basis; they just don’t have the people to pull off all of this stuff,” Rodriguez Currie said. “Some of the smaller sorts of things like this just kind of fall to the wayside. I think that because they don’t have those other avenues right now and are having to really think outside the box, it’s really kind of cool to see what organizations are coming up with right now.”

Rodriguez Currie said she believes sports organizations may continue to engage with their fans in these ways even when games are in person, but also thinks this shift may force athletes to engage with the community in a virtual way.

“There’s a little bit more distance between the fans and the players,” Rodriguez Currie said. “It potentially will require a little bit more of the athlete to really engage on social media and take ownership of their own brand in a way that is not the face-to-face signing of programs and stuff before and after the games.”

Evans said he plans to create more exciting ways to keep Western’s sports fans engaged until players can return to the field.

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