FIVE new authors have been shortlisted for the Vikki Orvice Book Prize, which is being run by Women In Football and publishers Floodlit Dreams, featuring a remarkable array of subjects ranging from juggling life as a TV presenter and mother, through being a gay female fan, to the psychology of the game.
The five, chosen by a five-strong judging panel of distinguished authors and publishers from an entry list of 20 submissions, are (in alphabetical authors’ names):
Alison Bender: The Real Life – TV, Motherhood and Me
Issy Clarke: Bibs, Boots, Balls and Brains
Katie Mishner: Queering the Beautiful Game
Lucy Pepper: Heart-Stopping – My Life after Death
Susie Petruccelli: Raised A Warrior
*Alison Bender’s engaging submission tells of her passion for the game from an early age, leading her to work for Chelsea TV before helping establish Real Madrid TV, all the while juggling relationships and motherhood.
“This is a book about how football helped me realise my dream and how tough it has been breaking through, especially as a female in a male-dominated industry but particularly as a mother of two small children,” says Alison. “Now I’m a football presenter and reporter of almost 20 years and yet only now do I feel like I finally belong.”
*Issy Clarke has penned a fascinating look at the psychology of the game by interviewing players and using her own experiences as a football reporter and broadcaster. She describes her book as an: “Exploration into the footballer’s mind.”
*Katie Mishner’s polished proposal looks at life as an LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer and others) football fan, citing her own experiences and interviewing others for theirs.
Her synopsis said: “Ultimately, this book is a celebration of the many people who exist in the game. I want to show that we are in the terraces, in the pubs, on the pitch, in the gantry, in the offices and we deserve to be heard.”
*Lucy Pepper has ghost-written the remarkable story of Tobi Alabi, a promising professional footballer in the making who suffered three heart attacks at a young age, seeing his dream fade before bouncing back to establish the Heart4More Foundation.
“Heart-Stopping,” says Lucy, “tells of the struggles, the heartbreak, the courage, the vision and the power of positive thinking.”
*Susie Petruccelli’s wide-ranging book of international appeal is an account of growing up in a macho sporting household in Southern California before playing on a championship-winning Harvard University team just as women’s football in the United States was taking off. It takes in subsequent personal issues and struggles before she became a mother with a soccer-mad daughter of her own.
“It’s a feminist awakening story, about myself, an American female soccer player born in the early 1970s just as Title IX was starting to transform the landscape of youth sports in the US,” says Susie.
The judging panel was chaired by Charlotte Ayteo, the former publisher of the cricket ‘bible’ Wisden and of the sports narrative list at Bloomsbury. She is now a freelance editor and a literary agent at Kingsford Campbell.
“It was a tough but very enjoyable job to whittle down the submissions to a shortlist,” said Charlotte. “We had a really fascinating and broad range of entries, demonstrating the wealth of women’s stories and voices around the game, and I’m delighted that we’ve ended up with such a strong final five.”
The panel also comprised Ian Ridley, husband of the late WIF board member Vikki and Floodlit Dreams founder; Amy Lawrence, hugely respected football writer for The Guardian and The Observer; Musa Okwonga, poet, podcaster and writer and Sarah Shephard, the deputy head of content at The Coaches’ Voice website.
As part of WIF’s innovative #WhatIf campaign last year, Floodlit Dreams joined forces with the organisation to invite submissions from women writers for a competition that would guarantee the winner publication of their non-fiction football book.
Following the death of Sun sports writer Vikki from cancer at the age of 56 in February, it was agreed the prize should be named after her.
Floodlit Dreams will work with the winning writer to develop their book ready for publication, as an ebook and paperback, at a date to be agreed with the author. The company is bearing all costs of producing the book and sharing profits on a 50-50 basis with the author.
The winner will be announced at WIF’s #WhatIf event at Twitter HQ in London next Tuesday, May 21st.