Inspirational figures on the UEFA-FIFA Women in Football Leadership Programme (WFLP) have shared their top tips for others who want to work within the game.
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The annual week-long course offers students a deep understanding of the opportunities and challenges facing the game, equipping them with the tools to advance their own careers, creating a powerful network of women ready to take on the world.
The 2023 edition of the WFLP brought together 36 participants representing UEFA and its five sister confederations, and this year, coincided with International Women's Day, marked every year on 8 March.
As the course concludes, we profile women from four UEFA national associations who share their experiences of working within football, and alongside fellow students from Australia, Botswana, New Zealand and Saudi Arabia, ask them to give us their top tips for other women interested in a career in the game.
Amina Graham, head of regulatory legal, the Football Association (The FA):
"I think that we are in a much better place than we were when I first started working in football 10 years ago. These changes are fundamental in helping to break down barriers and provide pathways for more women.
"It's so empowering to be in a room full of such successful women in football. We should use the fact that we're females in a male-dominated space as something which is a positive. We can use our own individuality and make that our unique selling point."
Eva Nõmme, head of communications and partnerships, Estonian Football Association (EFA):
"In Estonia, we, had the president and now the prime minister as a woman. It's not a question of gender, it's more about the quality of a person, and we have an outstanding balance within the FA and are very proud to have a female general secretary.
"As a former player, I have always wanted to be a part of football. One of the essentials is to love the game. For me, this course is about learning how to be in balance within myself and getting to know more about leadership. What opportunities do I have in future? I want to stay curious because when I do, then life happens."
Claudia Poças Felix, director of City of Football, Portuguese Football Federation (FPF):
"It’s important to show that you don't need to be familiar with the football world to work in football. It’s also beneficial to bring knowledge from other industries. I believe it’s important to have diverse backgrounds represented - this mix is what makes success.
"I never think in terms of “man” or “woman” role models. People in the federation know me as a leader, and not as a woman leader. I hope that in a few years, there will come a time when we can attend leadership courses and not only women’s leadership courses."
Urška Končar, head of Commercial & Communications, Football Association of Slovenia (NZS):
"It's not always easy, especially being a woman, to work in football. You have to prove yourself no matter what - man or woman, but the first step steps are easier if you're a man. Sometimes as a woman, you need double courage and power to be successful in this business.
"This programme, which features an amazing group of international ladies, focuses on psychology and leadership and if it can give me some knowledge on how to handle it easier, then my ambitions will be reached."
What is the Women in Football Leadership Programme?
Studies indicate that organisations with mixed senior management teams tend to outperform those with no women in positions of power. Football has traditionally been dominated by men, but more and more women are stepping into leadership roles.
Several WFLP alumni now hold senior positions within the game, butmore work needs to be done.
Established in 2014 and jointly run by UEFA, FIFA and the IMD Business School in Lausanne, Switzerland, the WFLP brings together professionals working in football to share their perspectives of the game and how it can continue to develop. It focuses particularly around diversity and inclusion, as well as the obstacles blocking women from taking on more leadership positions within the game.