First conference – thoughts by Ursula Lüthi

Sunday, February 22nd, 2015 at 10:09

Observations, reflections and knowledge were being shared – and need to be spread!

A lively mix of 150 participants playing sports or working for sports or associated industries showed their interest in the First Women in Sport Conference at the House of European Football in Nyon, Switzerland, on 19 February 2015. The facts and figures given by the presenters of governing bodies (UN, IOC, UEFA), training and competition grounds (Golf amateurs in Switzerland) as well as statistics and international movements (UN, IOC) underlined the present situation in female sport and business.

Female case studies and stories of (non-)support by associations, commercial partners or clubs steered the discussion towards the topic of gender, followed by indications on how this state-of-mind is shaped. Statements of the speakers’ panel touched spectra such as quota, male decision-making boards and the unbalanced economic trading of female performers, their success – and basic hopes.

“Quota should never aim at just one – always be more than one (woman)”, Karen Espelund emphasised, herself quoted member of the UEFA Executive Committee. Anna Falth, UN Knowledge gateway for women’s economic empowerment, pointed out “reverse coaching”, an approach that involves less experienced actors to coach the more seasoned colleagues. In Olympics the perspective is to have a fifty-fifty participation for the next Olympic games, conveyed Dominique Niyonizigiye, IOC women’s development. The twenty-year-old golf player Clara Pietri maturely contributed to the perception of athletes by her unconditional commitment based on ambition and pleasure. Such stimulating and important social values deserve economic recognition that programs of the World Bank partly acknowledge. The expanding number of women of all ages and backgrounds practicing sports and business is there to show the need for readjustment throughout the national structures – from grass-roots to the very top.

This First Women in Sports Conference offered the opportunity to hear about various day-to-day aspects in the field or at the desks and to acquire knowledge about current standards in sport business – both for men and women. The aspects of mentoring and coaching were well explained and pointed out the importance of togetherness and joint achievement, next to stressing the need for individual courage, believe and trust.

The evening gave the opportunity for many participants of various industries to come across former work colleagues or partners, to be made aware of the current situation, historical structures, adopted habits, and to remember the highlights and start creating a network. With all the goals in mind, Women in Sports, has a voice to be heard.