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SWinG Mentorship Programme Launched-

Mentees from across Europe came together to launch their journeys that will change the status quo


This weekend saw the first gathering of the candidates selected to participate in the SWinG mentorship programme over the next two years. The SWinG project is the first of its kind in the field of sport. Its mentorship scheme will support twenty women from across Europe in achieving their goals within the sport sector. Selected mentees have big ambitions for where they want to go in their elective careers in sport. But also for what change they want to implement once they get there.

Women currently make up only 6% of international sport federation presidencies (more data available here). By supporting these leaders into becoming elected decision-makers, the programme will ultimately increase diversity at the decision-making table within sport agencies across Europe. Through being more representative of society, these agencies will then have the capacity to be more impactful and relevant.

“I meet a lot of women, athletes to board members, whose organisations are doing really well, but the fact is – there is so much more potential for both sides.”

Katja Klemm, SWinG Mentee

These 20 women, all working in the field of sport have been matched with leading business women to pilot the SWinG Mentorship Programme. These mentors are themselves familiar with the barriers and challenges that women might find in permeating spaces that are predominately populated by men. 22 European countries are represented across the 40 selected mentors and mentees. Each mentee will further tune her skills and confidence to be ready to officially stand for board candidacy in whichever organisation she chooses.

What are the main take aways from the SWinG Mentees Empowering session?

From 8-10 November 2019, the SWinG mentees came together to start the next stage in their volunteer journeys. The event was hosted generously by the University of Copenhagen. Through a variety of workshops, activities and bespoke curriculum they started to plan their path to election. It was also an important opportunity to meet their peers who are similarly ambitious in how they plan to make their contribution to sport. Each has set themselves a personal goal to be elected to the board level in either a local, national or international organisation. And each has a wealth of experience, skills and ideas to contribute to further develop sport at the elite and grassroots level.

The level of expertise and potential each of the selected candidates possessed was evident. Whether playing hockey for her country, working for her National Olympic committee or running her own sports business. Unfortunately, many have already lived experiences of gender related barriers and challenges so far in their careers as athletes, volunteers, employees or leaders within sport. The SWinG programme, its partners and the mentors aims to support them in overcoming these challenges going forward.

“I am proud, and now deeply grateful, to have been selected for the SWinG programme. During these three days in Copenhagen, I had the chance to meet the other mentees from all over Europe who are all invested in sport and feel the support we are getting from the partnership. I cannot wait to meet my mentor. And as said in a SWinG video, for us mentees, “The sky is not the limit …. it’s just the beginning!”

Annick Ségabiot Viator, SwinG Mentee

The success of this first ever Empowering Session will be measured in its legacy. But also in the lasting bonds created between the mentees as well as the moment of lift generated.

How were the mentors prepared to support their mentees?

Last month saw the orientation session for mentors in Paris. The session brought together top women business leaders who have lent their time and expertise to the project’s mission to increase diversity in sport in Europe. Each will mentor one woman over the course of the project. During the SwinG Mentors Orientation Meeting they were introduced to the world of sport – some for the first time. They readied themselves with information about the ambitious goals of the project and provided key insights for the success of the SWinG Mentorship Programme.


Who is behind the SWinG project?

The SWinG project is a collaborative project co-funded by Erasmus+ Sport funding from the European Commission. It is led by the French Federation for Company Sport (FFSE) with the support of nine other key partners*. Organisations involved in the project came together in Copenhagen from 7-8 November ahead of the Mentees session to exchange and prepare intellectual outputs that will be published during the project’s lifetime. Intellectual outputs include academic research and toolkits which will be important for the delivery of the projects’ key outcomes and for potential replication in the future.


What are the next steps for the SWinG Mentorship programme?

Each pairing of SWinG mentor and mentee will have the opportunity to meet several times during the 18/24 months of the mentoring scheme. In addition, the SWinG partnership will keep working on creating the conditions for the mentees to be successful in their journeys towards elected decision-making positions in sport. This will include webinars, specific communication campaigns and various multiplier events

“Knowing the quality of the mentors and the aspiration of the mentees, the potential is simply enormous. I therefore expect to see in their relationship mutual respect but also thriving self-confidence and the development of unique, tailor-made alliances.”

Carole Ponchon, SWinG Project Leader

We will be profiling each of the mentees as they set off on their journeys on the SWinG website soon, so stay tuned!

Get access to the official gallery from the SWinG Mentees Empowering session

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