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University Academy empowering women as sport leaders nominated for international award

Sharon Brownlie

A PROGRAMME at the University of Chichester which empowers women to become the next generation of leaders in world sport has been shortlisted for a major international award.

The Women’s Sport Leadership Academy, known as WSLA, was nominated for the Beyond Sport Global Awards, which recognises projects making a positive social impact on communities worldwide. The WSLA initiative has, since it opened in 2014, helped 283 female trailblazers from 52 countries  develop their leadership competencies in sport.

University senior lecturer Dr Jordan Matthews, Chair of the WSLA organising group, said: “Even being shortlisted for this prestigious global award is a major achievement and validates the huge amount of energy put into WSLA since 2014. Gender equality and women’s and girl’s empowerment is the fifth United Nation Sustainable Development Goal and the whole team are thrilled to be recognised as contributing to this for our work on women’s leadership.”

The WSLA project provides development opportunities for women sport leaders to build new skills which can make a global impact and challenge the issues facing women in the sport industry. A focal point of the Academy is a week-long residential held at the University of Chichester each year which facilitates training and support, networking and mentoring, and research.

Women's Sport Leadership Academy (WSLA)

Dr Lucy Piggott, Women and Sport Research Fellow at the University, added: “WSLA is constantly developing and partnerships are being explored around the world. Major sporting organisations – including the International Paralympic Committee, World Rowing Federation and Football Association – have all supported many employees to attend the programme. Winning the Beyond Sport Award would contribute to WSLA strategically growing and expanding its reach and impact even further through the dedicated business support package awarded as part of the winning prize.”

The WSLA initiative is a programme of the Anita White Foundation (AWF) in the Institute of Sport at the University of Chichester, and is developed and delivered by the AWF and Females Achieving Brilliance. The AWF aims to develop future women sport leaders and scholars both from the UK and overseas, preserve the heritage of the women and sport movement, and conduct and facilitate research and scholarly activity.

WSLA representatives will attend the Beyond Sport awards ceremony in early September, hosted in New York, to discover if they have topped the Sport for Gender Equality category. The prize, which will be contested between WSLA and four other initiatives, celebrates projects which have used sport to inspire change in the industry.

WSLA cohort 2019

Founder and President of Beyond Sport Nick Keller said: “Every year we are more impressed by the incredibly innovative ways organisations are leveraging sport to drive change in their communities. We understand the tremendous amount of effort it takes to mobilize and contribute to local and global impact and are once again grateful for the opportunity to champion the visionaries responsible for utilizing sport to make the world a better place.”

For more about the Women’s Sport Leadership Academy, and its work in developing female trailblazers, visit www.chi.ac.uk/wsla. To read more about the Anita White Foundation, and its research activity into developing women in sport, visit www.chi.ac.uk/awf.