Laura Georges embraces new leadership opportunity
Ex-France defender Laura Georges is taking to her role as ambassador for the Women's World Cup
Skills acquired on the pitch continue to inform her new position
She joins a growing list of ex-players assuming leadership in women's football
When you’re given the nickname ‘Le Roc,’ it’s a mark of strength on the field. But in the case of former France international Laura Georges, you could easily transfer those characteristics off it.
Now Secretary General at the French Football Federation (FFF), Georges, who hung up her boots in May 2018 following a stellar career that saw her retire as France’s second-most capped player, is proving that there is an avenue into sports management for ex-players.
Leadership skills honed over a 17-year playing career would see her move into the FFF in 2017, and she is now responsible for taking a lead in promoting the upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup™ as the Ambassador for the Local Organising Committee.
Georges played in three World Cups herself, going as far as the semi-final in 2011, but she is now gaining an insight into what it is like preparing for a World Cup from the other side.
“I am thinking about the World Cup all the time and it is a privilege to be part of the promotion," she said. “I learned a lot from my time as a player, and I have been able to transfer those skills into my role with the FFF. Much like being a defender, you have to give advice, but you also have to listen.”
Former players in leadership roles are becoming more common in the women’s game, and Georges is an example of an individual whose experiences on the pitch can be incredibly beneficial for an organisation off it.
Former German international Nadine Kessler joined UEFA after injury forced her to retire ahead of schedule, while former Canada goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc now sits within CONCACAF. The FFF’s vice-president, Brigitte Henriques, also played for her country.
Georges, LeBlanc and Kessler all make up part of the FIFA Legends Squad, a collection of former players – male and female – who have assembled to promote this summer’s tournament and wider aspects of the women's game.
Having women and ex-players in leadership positions in women’s football is something Georges would like to encourage, especially with the game's growth.
“It’s important because it shows they can get involved, not only on the field, but in a position where they can make a difference for women’s football,” Georges said. “It means you can change people’s mentality, work on different projects and have an impact.
“It’s inspiring for young kids too, because it shows them they can play, and then have a career in sports management. It’s an opportunity for girls and women to have an important role and an influence on the women’s game.”
On the field, France will be looking to their leaders as they seek to claim their first Women’s World Cup. Georges, having played in the United States in 2003, Germany in 2011 and Canada in 2015, knows first-hand what players will currently be going through.
“When they meet with the national team, they should focus on getting to know each other, being together and learning to be around each other off the field," said Georges. "Importantly, they need to know how to encourage and support each other.”
But while France gets ready to welcome the world to its shores this summer, Georges is enjoying her role promoting the tournament so much, she has no fear of missing out.
“I don’t miss playing to be honest, because what I am doing today is a great experience," she said. "I will miss the full stadiums and the joy you can bring to people. But when I go to an event and 200 people are listening to me talking about my experiences as a player, I get that same feeling as when I played.”