Photo credit: United World Wrestling
During the last two months, more than 60 future women leaders from ASOIF’s member federations successfully completed a series of virtual live-coaching sessions, aimed at preparing them to serve in elective positions of their respective International Federation (IF), Continental Association or National Federation.
The “Women Lead Sports” online masterclass, run by professional coach Gabriela Mueller, was created to help increase the number of women in leadership positions across the Olympic Movement. Amongst others, participants learn how to strengthen their self-confidence and acquire important skills to influence, negotiate, communicate, navigate politics, manage stakeholders and lead in male-dominated environments. They also receive personalised coaching, helping them to define their next strategic steps. The course tailored to ASOIF’s member federations was adapted to the current reality of the COVID-19 pandemic, with congresses and elections taking place in different formats and requiring strong skills in digital communication. Senior women leaders joined certain sessions to share their experience, provide advice and inspire.
“The programme was a swift and effective response to prepare an equal future in a COVID-19 sports world and thereafter”, said Gabriela Mueller. “Even though in many cases the pandemic has been gender-regressive across several sectors, the online masterclass empowers women to run campaigns, get elected and lead.”
Gabriela Mena, Secretary General of the National Basketball Federation of El Salvador, said about her participation in the programme:
“This is an amazing opportunity to have an open safe space where powerful women, passionate about sports, can gather to exchange experiences and thoughts. The union makes us stronger and having a platform especially in these times when women empowerment is so important, we want to lead the way and enable better conditions for the generations to come. I learnt a lot from our coaches and from my peers, and I apply that knowledge now to my day-to-day work as a leader in my national federation. I feel proud that such programmes exist for women like me who have a dream of changing the reality of our societies and transforming kids’ lives through sport.”
Barbara Pichot, Women’s Development Coordinator at the South American Rugby Federation is determined to share the knowledge acquired during the programme with other women in her sport and region:
“We need more women to help spread the game throughout the regions and to get to where I am. We need leaders in each country who can become regional leaders. We can look at what other regions have done and adapt it, all in the joy of a growing sport. For me, the course was learning how to ‘pass the ball’ to other women, to give me more tools to teach them how to get sponsors on board and things like that.”
Her colleague and masterclass fellow Dr. Katharina Kueß, Vice-President of Rugby Austria, adds:
"I had the opportunity to work on myself and my leadership skills. Together with many other strong women from all sorts of sport fields and countries. I can see a bright future for women in sports."
Gabriela Mueller, founder of the programme, sums it all up when she says:
“Sport is a great vehicle of progress in society, and when women win, everyone wins. I get inspired by the women who at first doubt if they are leaders and then realise they are impactful leaders and action-oriented change-makers. I learn as much from all participants, as they confirm they learn from me.”