Deputy chief executive for the Sør-Trøndelag county authority at the Sør-Trøndelag Fylkeskommune, Karen Espelund has been passionate about football since her early childhood. She began playing with the Trondheims-Ørn club, and played more than 300 matches, also serving as a club board member from the age of 17. A midfielder, she played two times for the Norwegian national women’s team.
From 1985, Espelund served the Norwegian Football Association (NFF) as a member of the Women’s Committee, and joined the regional federations’ board in 1986. In 1988, she was elected to the NFF Executive Committee, serving as vice-president from 1996 to 1999, when she was appointed general secretary – a position she held for ten years. She became a member of the UEFA Women’s Football Committee in 1990, and has served as first vice-chairwoman (2007-11) and chairwoman (2000-07; from 2011). She first joined the UEFA Executive Committee as a member by invitation – the first woman to do so – in 2011, and became a full member in spring 2012.
Football is Espelund’s passion – she remains a keen veteran player – but she is also interested in music, mostly classical, and literature. Cross-country skiing and mountain hiking are also among her hobbies. “One of the important tasks is to let every child who wants to play football, to have such a possibility in her or his neighbourhood,” she says. “Therefore, we still have good work to do in European football – so that every child can fulfill her or his dream.”
Karen will be giving an overview of the newly introduced UEFA Women in Football Leadership Programme that has been introduced in February 2014 and focuses on women involved in the European national associations.