It’s a Monday afternoon in Lyon but an early Monday morning for me as I await the arrival of Ada Hegerberg, who is making her media rounds to speak about her partnership with DAZN. She appears in a brown shirt, the picture of calm in her sun soaked room despite having done what I imagine are several interviews back-to-back. This is, of course, the persona Hegerberg carries with her onto the pitch as one of the unquestioned leaders of a Lyon team that is not unused to making it this far in the UEFA Women’s Champions League. My time with Ada will be brief, but I want to speak to her about her partnership with DAZN and why it is so important to her.
“It is important for the players that DAZN is able to get more eyeballs on the screen, to know that people are watching makes the players feel good,” Hegerberg tells me in response to the importance of DAZN showing all UWCL matches from the group stages onward. The numbers bear that out, with over 14 million views in over 210 markets for the group stages alone through the DAZN YouTube channel. Those numbers are expected to continue an upward trend during the knockout stages, with many of the games being hosted at the cathedrals of football like Camp Nou, Emirates Stadium and Allianz Stadium, with Camp Nou expected to be at capacity, thus making history for a women’s football match.
One of the perks of the partnership with the UWCL, DAZN, and players like Hegerberg, who’s already an ambassador of the game, are the pieces on players in this tournament. Those pieces allow us to connect with them through more than just their play on the pitch and our need to watch their sublime talent. Hegerberg herself has a new short coming out titled “Icons with Ada Hegerberg” where she discusses the women she admired in her youth and why they mattered to her. She discusses athletes like Norwegian boxer Cecilia Brækhus and the Williams sisters, who she credits with modeling the behavior of what it means to have familial support as a woman in sports. The short ends with the tagline “see it, be it” which was a point of emphasis for Hegerberg. “I believe in the importance of showing footballers and other women athletes in all lights as we grow the game,” she says, “it’s why I’m excited to work with DAZN.”
We end the interview with me asking a personal question as an OL Reign fan. I inquired about Ada’s feelings on the city of Seattle, which is home to Lyon’s sister club, and Ada chuckled before telling me she’s never been. “My teammates that have played for OL Reign have spoken very highly of the team and the city and I would like to visit one day.” Hegerberg does follow the team when she can and is rooting for them to finish this year’s campaign with a better result than a semi-final loss.
In the meantime, Ada is prepared for Lyon’s second leg of their UWCL matchup against Juventus. They are currently down 2-1 after going ahead in the first leg and will be without star defender Ellie Carpenter who was sent off with a red card in the first round. “We shouldn’t be down 2-1, but we are going into this match with a positive attitude, knowing we can score two goals and win.”
These are the words of a player who has yet to lose in the UWCL while playing. This is the confidence Lyon missed while Ada was out for nearly two seasons with a series of injuries. Now, she is back and hungry, ready to win more titles for the club she’s been with since 2014, all the while breaking more records and being the role models in football she did not have in her youth. “Today we need more women role models in sports. Having women who are the face of their sports, can actually lift the sports to the better.”
For Ada, partnering with DAZN while wearing the Lyon crest, is one way that she is doing that for women’s football. We should all watch her while she does it.
Watch “Icons with Ada Hegerberg” here: