Kickaround Magazine – Plastic-free and proud.

Magazines play a huge role in encouraging reading for pleasure – perfect for dipping in and out of, lots of photos and illustrations, a range of different text types. Perfect! And there is definitely something for nearly every interest. Today, I’m showcasing one of Book Boy’s favourites: Kickaround Magazine.  I also have a six issue subscription to give away to one lucky school. Find out how to enter at the end of the post.

Packed with articles and facts about teams from several division, not just your premier league top five, prominently featuring women’s football and other leagues, Kickaround features football in all its wonderful forms. There are also player profiles and the hilarious comic strip ‘Mascot Matches’ (which is Book Boy’s favourite part!)

Interestingly, Kickaround Magazine has recently regrouped and rebranded as a subscription only, plastic gift free publication. Picking up on young consumers’ environmental awareness and the need to reduce damaging landfill.  I’m lucky enough to have an exclusive piece by Kickaround editor Tom Hocking:

When we first began developing the children’s football magazine that would become Kickaround, before it even had a name, we faced a big choice: to stick “free” plastic gifts on the front or shun the mass-sales model that works for so many other magazines.

All the available data shows that covermounts – free gifts on the front of magazines – help sales. Everyone likes a free gift, right? Particularly parents looking to treat their children during a visit to the supermarket. Surely there is no harm in them.

Yet there is murkier side to these gifts. Sales efficiency (the proportion of magazines you sell in relation to the number of copies you have put on the newsstands) is rarely more than 50 per cent. In the children’s market it can drop to 35 per cent. For a new, independent magazine with a low launch budget, we were looking at potentially just 10-15 per cent of the magazines we printed making it to the tills, and the rest being pulped.

Next time you are in a supermarket, look at the magazines on the children’s shelves and imagine half of them (and that’s optimistic) never reaching a reader. Of course, there are companies that specialise in reclaiming covermounts to reuse on future magazines but when you factor in the manufacturing and transport from (usually) the Far-East, that is a huge amount of waste. At a time when young people feel they need to strike from school to have their voices heard about climate change, it was strategy we could not justify.

Beyond the environmental issues, I have another issue with covermounts. They say “reading is boring, a magazine is not enough to keep your children entertained so we’re bribing them with tat instead”. All this does is detract from the brilliant, accessible material inside the magazines. Children should be encouraged to read for reading’s sake, not for a plastic toy that will be broken before bedtime.

Covermounts, then, were shunned on Kickaround. Did it hurt us? Yes, to be honest. Our first year was difficult as we struggled on the shelves. Yet where we found success, like other magazines we believe share similar philosophies such as The Week Junior and The Phoenix, was in subscriptions. They are more efficient, too – you only have to print one copy per subscriber. And yes, the plastic wrapping the magazines arrive in is recyclable.

So we have shunned newsstands and gone subscription-only. We’re a small company with virtually no marketing budget, meaning we rely on social media and, more importantly, word of mouth to reach new readers.

And what exactly will new readers find? As with our parent magazine, When Saturday Comes, we cover all levels of football. Fans of lower-league teams such as Accrington Stanley are as excited and passionate about their team and players as Arsenal fans are about theirs, and we reflect that. Football is not all about winning trophies, it’s about experiencing ups and downs as part of a community. Kickaround is focused on getting outside and kicking a ball or watching a match.

We also provide in-depth coverage of women’s and girls’ football. That means female players featured prominently on every cover, interviews, player and team profiles – everything you would get for the men’s game. It’s all just football.

Covering every club in every issue is impossible and it’s a tough balance to strike but I’m proud of the diversity of our articles. The new issue (out 26th April) includes everything from Tottenham’s new stadium to blind football, via men’s and women’s FA Cup previews (plus how a police horse once saved the first Wembley final!), a young fan’s tour of Doncaster Rovers, a history of Durham Women, when Blackburn ruled the Premier League and a new feature looking at junior clubs around the country. We’ve also signed up Matt Oldfield, author of the popular Ultimate Football Heroes series, for a regular column as part of our drive to show that discovering the latest books about the game is a more rewarding experience than being urged to buy the latest boots.

Children and parents are really enjoying the fresh approach we’re taking to writing about football. We may return to the newsstands one day, if we feel it is worth it without covermounts, but for now we are concentrating on growing our subscription numbers. So if you know a football-mad youngster between 7 and 13 years old, take a look. Hopefully you (and more importantly they) will like what they read.

Kickaround subscriptions start from £3 for 3 issues. There are also amazing discounts for schools and clubs.

Follow Kickaround on Twitter:

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Well if that hasn’t convinced you to sign up for a subscription, perhaps we can tempt you with a giveaway? Kickaround are offering a six week subscription for one lucky school library.  To enter, comment below with the name of your fantasy football team and the school you’d like to nominate. (U.K. only, entries to be in by Monday 29th April.)

Library Girl.


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