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Information Pack 2020


The Women's Sport Leadership Academy (WSLA) is dedicated to developing tomorrow's leaders of sport with the aim of preparing and supporting them to step up and be part of an increased cohort of female leaders in sport. WSLA is a partnership between the Anita White Foundation (AWF), Females Achieving Brilliance (FAB), the University of Chichester (UoC) and the University of Hertfordshire (UH) and provides unique development opportunities for women leaders from around the world to step up, take the lead and make an impact. Since 2014, 283 women based in 52 countries and spanning six continents have become graduates of the Academy. They come from a range of sports organisations, including:

  • National Olympic and Paralympic Committees
  • International and National Sport Federations
  • Sport for development charities and organisations
  • Sports departments in universities
  • Sports clubs
  • Media consultancy businesses

WSLA programmes are international programmes that have been delivered in the UK, Botswana and New Zealand in a range of formats including week-long sessions, two or three-day sessions, or over 18 months/two years. In 2019, a new WSLA aimed at high-performance coaches was launched at UH. All formats of the WSLA programmes are delivered by experienced facilitators with appropriate skills, knowledge and experience in both leadership in sport and business. WSLA was shortlisted for the Beyond Sport Global Award (Gender Equality) in 2019.


WSLA 2020

Our aim for WSLA 2020, which runs from Monday 15th June to Friday 19th June, is to bring together another 36 outstanding women leaders from around the world and support them to fulfil their leadership potential and enhance their understanding of the global women and sport movement.


We are seeking applications from women who are:

  1. Currently in middle management, or recently appointed senior managers or Board members, of sport or sport-for-development organisations
  2. Responsible for key areas such as managing staff (or likely to be doing so soon) or heading up a specific department, area or project for their organisation
  3. Passionate and driven to pursue their own professional development
  4. Committed to influencing change in an organisation or sector of work
  5. Identified as future leaders by their organisation
  6. Committed to making a difference to as well as enhancing opportunities for women and girls in and through sport
  7. Competent in written and spoken English (min IELTS 6.5). Please note that no translation service will be provided.

About WSLA

WSLA vision, philosophy and objectives

Our vision is to empower women to be great leaders and our leadership philosophy can be summarised in this simple model.

There are two key objectives for WSLA programmes that support the further development of participants in the following:

  • Leadership competencies – supporting female leaders to further develop their leadership competencies or behaviours, consolidate their own leadership style, empower them to be who they want to be and navigate the challenges that are part of leading an organisation.
  • Confidence – encouraging female leaders to identify their strengths, pursue goals, take opportunities and progress their career path. They will be confident to champion themselves and others going forward.

Specifically, WSLA 2020 will also support the participants to:

  • Be aware of their impact on others
  • Be able to communicate more effectively
  • Develop greater self-awareness
  • Produce a Personal Development Plan with clear goals
  • Develop career strategies. 
  • Participate in regular networking
  • Improve intercultural understanding
  • Gain better knowledge and understanding of the global women and sport movement and the relevance to them
  • Acquire access to the international WSLA Alumni network and extended their own network.


About the programme

Timetable and Commitment


Programme Structure and Content

 The week-long programme consists of several elements, all of which are essential for the critical learning and development that will take place during the WSLA residential week:

 Workshops – These are an integral part of the learning process and are designed to meet the needs of participants. They have clear learning outcomes and are tailored to maximise learning; they will be challenging, constructive and highly interactive.

Personal Development Plan – Each participant will produce a Personal Development Plan setting goals on leadership behaviours, career strategies, future opportunities and to consolidate learning.

Home teams – These consist of small groups of participants who meet regularly throughout the residential week. Their aim is to help participants reflect on learning, raise issues and concerns, discuss hot topics, and provide support and encouragement.

Peer support sessions – These provide opportunities for participants to define, frame and communicate their key challenges and receive support from colleagues. The sessions allow participants to have time to reflect on their experiences and to explore ways of doing things differently.

Physical activities – A range of physical activities have been designed to indulge our love of sport, to live our principle of an active lifestyle, to provide a physical challenge, to promote team building and... to have fun!

Facilitators and guest speakers – The programme is led by Pauline Harrison and Lucy Faulkner alongside a team of experienced facilitators, many of whom are WSLA graduates, to inspire participants as well as share their own experiences. We will also be joined by some trainee International Facilitators selected from the WSLA alumni network. Guest speakers will identify what leadership means to them and what motivates and challenges them, as well as providing top tips for participants.


WSLA Leadership Competency Framework

We provide a unique learning environment that supports each participant to further develop their leadership behaviours that research has shown to be critical to becoming an outstanding leader.

What we know is the performance often changes when under pressure so the focus at WSLA is on the main behaviours to develop in three areas of focus and always with the overriding issue of a leader’s performance in a pressured environment.

For each area of focus we have identified some critical behaviour as follows:

Drives self

For example – awareness of own behaviour on others; how to reflect on own performance; managing own wellbeing; embracing uncomfortable situations; seeks out learning opportunities; how to be resilient; accepting challenging feedback.

Develops excellence

For example – has a clear leadership philosophy; is a role model with leadership behaviour; applies principles of coaching to help others develop; translates strategic direction into effective plans; makes tough decisions; develops a high-performing culture; empowers others to operate at their best.

Executes effectively

For example – builds strategic relationships; connects with a range of networks; brings people with complementary skills together; consults with widely varied audience; leads meaningful communication to share vision; expresses thoughts, feeling and ideas in a clear succinct and compelling manner.


Learning principles behind the WSLA programme

We know that investing in people is of the utmost importance and that time and money spent in learning and development must pay off. We fully recognise that changes in behaviour must be embedded and sustained over time and ensuring that people take responsibility for their own self-sustained learning is at the heart of everything we do. The following principles guide all our activities:

  • The programme will be facilitative rather than prescriptive allowing participants to focus on self-sustained learning
  • Participants will be supported to take ownership of, and responsibility for, their own learning
  • We will create a safe working environment and nurture a sense of collegiality and trust for all participants
  • We will set scaled challenges that take people out of their comfort zone and into the stretch zone, so learning is maximised
  • We allow time to practise new techniques successfully and support participants to apply the learning to their current or future situation
  • We actively encourage participants to give and receive feedback that builds their confidence
  • We will develop a set of shared values to encourage reciprocity, mutuality and respect of differences and diversity
  • We believe that a flexible approach to meet the diverse needs of specific groups, individuals, and cultures is essential
  • We draw on a variety of theories, ideas, opinions and approaches to develop learning that ‘sticks’, and we are innovative and creative in our approach
  • Evaluation of WSLA will take place throughout the week and will continue post-event after participants have returned to their workplace

Pre-WSLA tasks

To ensure that participants get as much as possible from the WSLA experience, and also to ensure we make the content of WSLA as relevant as possible to the differing circumstances of each person, we ask for the following to be completed prior to attending WSLA. Detailed instructions as well as deadlines and templates will be provided following acceptance onto the programme.

  1. Submit a brief biographical profile and image
  2. Undertake a self-assessment against WSLA leadership competencies (see above) to help the participant develop a plan to address development needs.
  3. From the self-assessment, determine a small number of strengths and areas to develop and collect feedback from colleagues and peers against these.
  4. Analyse the feedback to determine initial key areas of focus to develop through the WSLA programme.
  5. Submit an image that represents leadership and one sentence describing own leadership philosophy.
  6. Prepare for a short presentation about you(!)

We will spend some time at the residential session considering the feedback from colleagues and helping the participant to develop short and medium-term goals to develop these behaviours.

During WSLA

The schedule for the week is shown below. Learning outcomes have been developed for each area of focus and designed to meet the unique needs of female leaders in sport or sport-for-development organisations.

WSLA 2020 runs from 9.00am on Monday 15th June until 1.30pm on Friday 19th June. Please note we expect all participants to stay to the end of the programme on the Friday.

We are hosting an evening meal on Sunday 14th June from 6.30-7.00pm followed by a networking session. This provides an opportunity for participants to meet fellow participants and become more familiar with the campus. Whilst this is not a compulsory part of the WSLA residential week, we encourage as many participants as possible to join us for this.

The programme will be delivered in The Dome on the Bognor Regis Campus of the University of Chichester, PO21 1HR.

Delivery methods

We provide a facilitative rather than directed, instruction-based method of learning allowing participants to focus on self-sustained learning. The methodology is non-formal, mediated learning aided by our team of highly experienced WSLA facilitators. Our activities will be learner-centred and highly participative using discussion, small/syndicate groups, role plays and scenarios/case studies. We use experiential learning whereby learning occurs through the resolution of real-life problems and it is structured and manage; it’s not the same as learning from experience. There are no tests or assessments, however we will check for learning during the activities.


After the residential session, we will continue to support the participants by:

  • Help them to work toward their goals by staying in contact.
  • Continue to monitor and evaluate them after the programme finishes.
  • Join them to a global network of women leaders
  • Review their Personal Development Plan and set goals thereafter.

What do WSLA graduates say?

We think the following anonymous evaluation feedback from WSLA 2019 provides the perfect snapshot of the residential week. We asked “What message would you give to someone who was thinking about a future WSLA?”

  • Do it!!! It has honestly been so thought provoking, inspiring and interesting in both my professional and personal life
  • Attending WSLA would be the best decision you will ever make. I would highly recommend it, especially if you are involved or thinking of getting involved in women in sport activism/advocacy. It's a learning experience that you have to jump into on your own to fully understand and appreciate.
  • Expect to have an emotional journey but also an amazing experience to come away feeling very different!
  • Definitely go for it! It’s the most inspirational and challenging experience you will ever have
  • She should attend because she will be met by the most amazing group of facilitators who will push/protect and guide her through a wonderful week of activities which will provide her with a number of different tools and methods to take back into her own environment.
  • She will have the opportunity to mix with the most amazing women from all over the world where she can share her greatest fears as well as her experiences and knowledge.
  • She will be challenged but supported and will at times will take part in activities and workshops which will take her to places outside of her comfort zone. She will laugh, she may even cry but rest assure she will have fun.
  • Just do it. Jump right in, be fearless, ask questions, be bold, and go for it. There is a network of women yearning for the opportunity to connect with you and it starts with those around you and builds to all graduates.
  • It helped me to realise that I can be a leader. I don't need to change my personality, just find the style of leadership that suits me. I already have many strengths to be a great leader which I didn't realise before.
  • Because it is maybe the only chance you will have to spend almost six days learning about yourself.

Registration cost, support and how to apply

How much does WSLA 2020 cost and what is included?

The registration fee cost includes all relevant facilities and services during the WSLA residential week as follows:

As WSLA 2020 begins at 9.00am on Monday 15th June 2020, accommodation and an evening meal on Sunday 14th June is included in the pricing.

The cost to attend WSLA varies according to where a participant’s organisation is based. We use the World Bank Table of Economies by Category to structure the pricing, as outlined below.


Band Cost in GBP
Band A £1,950
Band B £1,000
Bnad C £750


View the world bank table here.

We will arrange an invoice and provide details of how to pay in GBP (£) Sterling when places are confirmed. Full payment will be due by 21st February 2020. Our Cancellation Policy will be notified to participants in the letter offering a place on WSLA 2020.

Travel costs
Participants are responsible for paying their own travel costs to and from the venue. 

What financial support is available?

Scholarships and travel grants

Each year, WSLA is able to offer a few scholarships for registration fees. The Anita White Foundation (AWF) will also make limited travel grants available to accepted applicants. If you wish to be considered for one of these please provide some information in the application form about personal circumstances and how a scholarship and/or a travel grant is important to you. Please note that this does not form part of the selection process for WSLA. Information from participants helps us to plan how much fundraising we need to do so we can support as many women as possible to attend WSLA. Our priority for scholarships or travel grants has tended to be Band B and C countries, but not exclusively.


Where is WSLA 2020 going to be hosted?

The programme will be delivered in The Dome on the Bognor Regis Campus of the University of Chichester, United Kingdom, PO21 1HR.


What type of accommodation will I be staying in?

The accommodation is in student halls of residence. Bedrooms are small, single rooms with private shower, lavatory and washbasin. There is a shared kitchen area for every six people. Towels and basic toiletries are supplied free of charge along with tea and coffee making facilities. Hairdryers can be borrowed for the week if a small deposit is paid to the accommodation reception. These facilities use three-pin plugs common throughout the UK.

To find out more about the accommodation and the campus, visit our University Halls of Residence page.

Please note that you do not need to book your accommodation – we will do that for you. However, if you require accommodation prior to day one of the residential week or immediately following, it can be purchased subject to availability.


How can I apply?

All interested women are asked to submit a completed application form, a current CV/resume and an endorsement from the participant’s employer.  Participants can do this by completing the electronic application form. 

Applications will close on 11th December 2019.

If you have any questions, please email