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Interview with Magdalena Nazaret

By 4 February 2020February 19th, 2020No Comments
Magdalena Nazaret tells us about leadership in the boardroom
Together We Build Dreams

Only when others see that you are not more special than them, they will realize it all depends on one’s own good will, determination, passion and of course a little support.

Role Model ID Card
  • Name:Magdalena Nazaret
  • Country: Poland
  • Organisation: European Hockey Federation
  • Elected position: Executive Board Member
  • How long have you been in your current position? 6 months

To begin with, please tell us a little about yourself.

Magdalena Nazaret: My name is Magda, I am 39 and I am a mom of 3. That’s like three full time jobs.

I am not a business woman and I do not have a prosperous company. But I do have a life which I keep working on. I do already consider it very successful. I have a BA degree in English Language Teaching and MA degree in Foreign Languages Didactics. I was a teacher for 15 years. Animals, next to hockey, have always been my other love. In fact I am also a qualified Conductor of Animal Assisted Therapy.

I have moved countries this year, from Poland to France, and I am just starting my own business in the animals field.

My journey with hockey, the first love, have started when I was 15. It has been shaping my life since then. I have visited about 20 countries in 3 different continents. It offered me an amazing adventure of world exploration, meeting people, discovering other cultures, tasting the most bizarre but very often delicious food and… Meeting my husband, who is French, on a hockey tournament. So, hockey is the love of my life, indeed :))

I am a technical Official for European and International Hockey Federations. Twice a year, I am appointed to a hockey tournaments, average, from 5 – 14 days long. I am also an Executive Board Member of European Hockey Federation so I also go for the Board meetings (4 trips a year, 2-3 days long). I take every occasion to live my life fully and do what I love, that is hockey. It would not be possible if it wasn’t for my wonderful family, my mom and my husband, who are fully supportive and let me do it by taking over the kids care while I am away.

The below responses of mine are based only on my own story. I do not tend to generalize.”


Can you tell us about your “Why”  and how you came to leadership position?

Magdalena Nazaret: It is when I feel I have something to show and share, something what others are looking for and I already have it. Then I “take the lead”. But for me it is not really about leading but about sharing.

I believe that people are giving you signals that they need you somewhere. Or that you are welcome there, or that your presence (knowledge and experience and also personality) would be very much appreciated. I don’t think an honest person would choose to be a leader in a place without the others’ support.

I think and hope I was elected to the EHF Board because I showed that nothing is impossible. And proved that dreams come true which is what I want to help others with. I want all interested people to take up their journeys in hockey, to not think that their, very often, tough life can stop them. There are not really clear directions on how to do it. Everybody’s story is different. So what I do is tell them my story – for a start, as an encouragement. Then I proceed to technical issues. Only when others see that you are not more special than them, they will realize it all depends on one’s own good will, determination, passion and of course a little support from your close ones.

I believe in all this. It all happened to me. That’s why, I guess, I get up every morning.


What is it you want to achieve and what made you decide on your professional and personal pathway?

Magdalena Nazaret: “Before not so long ago, my goal was to go to the Olympic Games. This dream kept me motivated. And just past September, on the day of my birthday, I received an email from International Hockey Federation with the appointment of my dreams – the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020. This is the best birthday present I have ever been given. This is a testimony to all the time spent away from my family, all the efforts made to be good at what I am doing, this is a complete fulfilment of my hockey life. Now I can only pay back and hopefully help others live the same dream.

I want to keep going. I like changes and I also don’t want to waste all I have been given, my knowledge and experience. It has to be passed to next generation. And… life is too short to be hiding and not fully taking it.

I chose to be a teacher because studying it came easy for me. It was not the best decision of mine but has given me a great experience also on being a leader. The best part of this time of my life was sharing my hockey adventures with my students, combining it with the message of how important it is to learn foreign languages and that accent doesn’t matter. The most rewarding part was when they didn’t want to have classes but just listen to my stories and talk. 😀

As for what made me decide on my professional and personal pathway… I’d say a little bit of coincidence, sequence of actions, people I met on my way but also curiosity. My hunger for adventure, the need to get out from one place, change the environment. A mixture of all this.”

'Looking for some 💎 on #Leadership? Have a look at #MagdalenaNazaret, @eurohockeyorg Board member 🏑 itw for #SWinG. 'For me it is not really about leading but about sharing'


How do you achieve your goals?

Magdalena Nazaret: “I never work when I am tired. Being an old school student, I take notes with a pen and paper. I carefully listen to people talk. Overcoming my internal barriers took me many years. But I have learnt what is expected from me and proved to myself that I can meet people’s expectations and still remain myself.

In the Officials Feedback that we get after every tournament, over the years I found out (I can sum it up) that I am quiet, that I have to soften my misdemeanour and that my English is satisfactory… which was very depressing to read but that note was made only once…

I have learnt to explain my feelings and not express them. I have always tried to convince myself that this is the way I am and people have to accept me as much as they expect me to be accepting them.


How do you cope under the stress of the environment and keep up with the fast-changing society

Magdalena Nazaret: “I don’t give a sh*t. But only now, when I am 39.

Throughout the years I have worked it out. I repeat to myself that I have come so far and nothing can stop me. I tell myself that I am not a coward. That I have something that others don’t and there are people who want to see it. So I have to show them and be there for them. I repeat to myself that I am a mother of three – what else can be more challenging! I repeat to myself that I am loved so even if I fail now, I have a place to come back to.

As for keeping up with society, I kind of avoid it by going at my pace, not chasing the others but offering what I am able to offer and not what is not within my competencies or abilities.”


Who inspires you? And why?

Magdalena Nazaret: “Here, I am very happy and proud to give names of people who inspired me and offered me kindness, support and real understanding of who I am:

  • Marijke Fleuren – President of EHF and Carola Meyer – Vice President of EHF – very strong and independent women who tactfully keep both feet on the ground
  • Ana Tuero – my mentor TD with exceptionally gentle and at the same time reasonable ways to handle tournaments
  • Sylwester Sip – a headmaster of the school I worked in in years 2004 – 2016 who always supported me and helped me find ways to skip school and go to my hockey tournaments
  • My mom Anna and my husband Romain who are the most understanding and caring people in my life.”


Who has supported you, and who has challenged you the most on your journey? And how?

Magdalena Nazaret: The greatest support has been given to me by my mom. Then, my husband joined her. They have never questioned my hobby and I can always rely on their help and support.

My children have challenged me the most but they don’t know about it. In 2007, when my son was only 17 days old, I left him with his father (my former partner) and went for a weekend in Manchester for EHF TDs Seminar. I was breastfeeding him. It was painful but I made it. He survived as well. When my middle daughter was born in 2014. She has been the least troublesome so far but has been to Indoor World Cup in Berlin with me at only 3 months of age – breastfed at that time as well. Now, the third one is a true challenger. She is now 21 months old and I still breastfeed her. It is surprising for me too and I cannot explain it. Since she was born I was away abroad three times for hockey tournaments lasting between 8-10 days and 4 times for weekends also connected with hockey- tournaments, seminars, elections and Board Meetings. I come back and it continues.

Why I am sharing this personal story here? Well, I hope it could give strength and hope to other moms out there who are declining chances and refusing to take up challenges because they have children or because they are told they should not think about themselves because they have children. I found out it is my children who are actually giving me the strength. The result is that I am happy because I do what I love, therefore they are happy too and now they want to travel with me. Of course I was criticized many times for leaving my newborn son or baby daughters at such an early stage of their lives but hey, who cares, I can tell you as soon as you close the door and they don’t see you, they are better than you think. And you can breath some air and have a hot coffee with both your hands free. And the people telling you what you should or shouldn’t are not worth staying close to.”


We believe that's a 🥅goal for #MagdalenaNazaret, @eurohockeyorg Board member 🏑! 'I hope it could give strength & hope to other moms out there who are declining chances' #BeInspired by #GamechangeHer


How do you make allies with men and women?

Magdalena Nazaret:”I am always true and honest, I never pretend and always smile. Where need be, I am assertive. I explain my thoughts and not express them. I do not change roles depending on who I am talking to.”


What kind of resources has proven to be the best help throughout your journey ? And where did you find them?

Magdalena Nazaret: Mental and human. The latter is my mom. My mom took me to English classes when I was six. In 1986 in Poland, English classes were something super extra special, not common at all and pretty exotic I should say. I joined a group of 15 year old kids. It was the only group in the small town I lived in at that time. In 1990 she decided we were moving to a city of Gniezno. Reason – so that me and my brother have a better choice of schools.

In 1995 I joined my Hockey Club SPARTA Gniezno. In 1999 in Gniezno there was an Invitational Tournament organised by International Hockey Federation (FIH). One Judge withdrew at a very late notice and they urgently searched for someone who spoke English and knew hockey. They asked me. It was men’s tournament. I had no idea what I agreed for. The feedback I received, though, opened the door for me to International Hockey. And next year I am going to the Olympics, Tokyo 2020 as a Technical Official.

My mom has been there with me all the time. In 2002 she paid for my flight to a tournament in Dublin after my National Association refused to do it (which was their responsibility). She actually took a loan to get it. From 2007, when my first child was born, she has been looking after my kids when I am away. Even now, although we live 2000 km apart, she comes and stays with them when I am away and my husband has job obligations. I would definitely not be where I am now if it wasn’t for her.

My mental resource is all my mom has taught me – patience, hard work and most importantly this feeling that she is always there. I want to be like her, to my children.”


Where do you act as a leader and where do your priorities lie as a leader? 
Magdalena Nazaret: “When I am appointed to a tournament as a Technical Delegate (Tournament Director), then the running of the tournament is fully my responsibility. From changing rooms preparations to Umpires appointments, everything is under my supervision and is done for the spirit of the game and a good atmosphere of a sports event. Teams and other Officials rely on me and trust that I will make sure that the Rules and Regulations are complied with. Some devote their lives to hockey, dreaming of going to Olympic Games. For others it is their profession and they earn money for coaching, managing or playing the game. Sometimes we travel half of the World to meet other teams and play the game. It is passion and hard work. It is very important that things go well.

As a leader my priorities is to put myself in others’ shoes. To show them that I fully understand their position. To always give others a chance to improve before I actually enforce rules and regulations on them. This happens on a tournament when a breach of conduct appears and my role makes me take actions such as hearings and suspending team members or any participants. I always stress that we are there for the same reason, to play hockey. The name of the role that one was appointed to, is just a name.”


When did your leadership story begin and where is it now?

Magdalena Nazaret: I don’t think there are any deadlines. We can dream and make plans all our lives and put them into practice when we are ready. We can also quietly wait for this very special moment, a special person to drag us with them to the lead or to our adventure.
My leadership story started – I believe- when I began working as a teacher.

On the hockey side, I think it was when the President of my Hockey Club Sparta Gniezno was stepping down after 16 (I think) years, he said there will be elections and the Club members will vote but he sees no one else to take over but me. I was elected. I felt humbled and honoured like never before. It is because he nominated me that I took the chance and I felt responsible. Otherwise I would have probably never stand for the elections myself. Also I cared a lot about my Club and wanted it to be the best club in the world (for those who loved it). It was in 2008 and in the very same year I got my first TD appointment for a hockey tournament.

Being a Technical Delegate is being a leader but most importantly it is being a part of the team. Being an Executive Board Member of European Hockey Federation is my new role but they are both connected. They are about sharing the passion for hockey and opening the door to those who are like me in 1999 when my very first TD, Dennis Meredith gave me this very good feedback, opening the door for me to where I am now in hockey. If I wasn’t good at all or if he simply didn’t like me, who knows if I would have made it to the next tournament.


What was the most difficult challenge you had to overcome in your election journey? How did you overcome it?

Magdalena Nazaret: In my election journey for the EHF Board Member, the most difficult challenge was to meet the expectations of my National Association Delegates. Not wanting to disappoint them but at the same time not wanting to say something I didn’t feel was expressing me.

In the end, I didn’t listen to them. I remained myself. With an average result, I was elected and very very happy about myself and my decision. My heart was smiling and my spirit was fulfilled.”


Finally, what words of advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?

Magdalena Nazaret: Every change makes you take actions. Every action keeps you going. Allow changes in your life, take actions, keep going and be kind.



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