The latest edition of the Women in Football Leadership Programme, a joint initiative by FIFA, UEFA and the IMD Business School aimed at empowering women to assume leadership positions all over the world, brought together 24 participants in Zurich from 18 to 22 November.
The representation of women in football leadership is integral to the aim of enriching the industry with people who have different and valuable perspectives, experience and backgrounds and making the global game as inclusive and diverse as possible.
“Women play vital roles in making organisations successful. They create a balance that allows us to share a maximum of ideas and skills to constantly improve together and strive forward,” said Sarai Bareman, FIFA’s Chief Women's Football Officer. “The programme is a unique platform for female executives in football to grow and assume more decision-making roles within their organisations.”
Michele Uva, UEFA Vice-President and Deputy Chairman of the UEFA Women’s Football Committee, added: “We must strive to bring together the best professionals to ensure a successful, sustainable future for football. To achieve this, it is important to look at the bigger picture – women’s football must not become a ‘women-only island’, just as it is unacceptable to only have men working in men’s football.
“To me, diversity is not about focusing on different genders, but instead on ensuring we work together to raise the bar within our industry. The most effective leaders are men and women driven by thought, who have a sense of responsibility as well as the capability to doubt and question. The Women in Football Leadership Programme contributes to this process and we are delighted that it continues to nurture and inspire senior female leaders within the game.”
The training week included plenary discussions, role playing and one-on-one coaching. The participants were challenged both personally and professionally and learned more about what it takes to be a good leader and the power of team dynamics.
“The Women in Football Leadership Programme creates a unique training environment that is conducive to the personal growth of talented women from around the world,” said Professor Ginka Toegel of the IMD Business School.
“It creates a context in which they are challenged and supported to explore their own leadership identity, learn how to advocate their mission and address gender-specific career derailers. It builds social capital by networking with other women who share similar challenges. It’s an amazing group of highly talented women, who are passionate about the beautiful game and have innovative ideas about its future.”
Besides sharing female leaders' experience in football, the workshops focused on self‑awareness, personal leadership styles and the hurdles that have to be overcome in order to become a female leader in a male-dominated business.
Ana Sofia Moura, Commercial Director of the Portuguese Football Association, said: “This course has allowed me to feel much more empowered as a person and I strongly believe it can really change the course of my life. It is a very complete programme, very well prepared and absolutely unique.”
Tsoseletso Eunice Magang, a member of the Botswana Football Association’s Executive Committee, concluded: “We learned a lot about ourselves and got useful advice on how to make an impact, how you should not try to be someone else, and the importance of posture and body language. Because only if you know and appreciate yourself are you able to lead others.”