12 Jul 2021

A 30 per cent female representation in leadership positions within international federations is the target set by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Supporting the policy, under the auspices of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF), the ASOIF Diversity and Gender Equality Consultative (ADGEG) is charged with realising the goal.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Earlier this year in March and April, in order to advance the skills necessary to occupy decision-making posts, the “Women Lead Sports Programme” was initiated.

Offering a total of 20 places, representing the sport of table tennis was Nicole Smith Cadena (Communications Department – Ecuador Table Tennis Federation),  Fatemeh Keyvani (Vice President of the Women’s Table Tennis Federation of the Islamic Republic of Iran), and Christine Arthur (Chair Table Tennis New Zealand). In addition, Petra Sörling (ITTF Executive Committee) participated as an ASOIF guest as the only female ITTF EC member.

The programme was delivered by Gabriela Müller Mendoza, a professional speaker in the subject of leadership, possessing over 18 years of experience and having addressed women in 80 countries.

Nicole Cadena, experience in Communications and building now in leadership.

“It was a wonderful experience, Gabriela, our coach is an empowered women that encouraged all of us through powerful tools and knowledge in sport. Currently, it is urgent to take action regarding female participation in decision making in sport; this was the importance of the programme. I am committed to continue working on behalf of women’s participation, leadership and promotion in the table tennis family.” Nicole Smith Cadena

Stated aims for the itinerary were: skill-building in communication, negotiation, and networking, along with the development of self-confidence and personal leadership styles.

Fatemeh Keyvani on focus

“I am so delighted with the success of this very informative course. It will help us in a great way to organise with new leadership; this course was very effective especially for me as an upcoming leader and very enlightening as being vice president.” Fatemeh Keyvani

Four live online coaching sessions were organised as well as offline content such as videos, podcasts, pdf files and homework.

Christine Arthur delivering a speech at an Alumni Transition Workshop

“It was fantastic to be part of the women leads sport programme; having like-minded women together to share experiences and promote our values is very rare. For me, the key learnings were around campaign planning and self-promotion, understanding stakeholders and how to best engage, and encouraging us to step forward as opportunities arise. It gave me the time to pause from doing, reflect and think about what’s next, so now I will invest in sports leadership in a more strategic way.” Christine Arthur

Positive responses from all concerned, it was the same from Petra Sörling, currently, the only female member on the Executive Committee of the International Table Tennis Federation and very much aware of the vital role women can play in decision making roles.

Petra Sörling speaking at the 2018 ITTF AGM in Halmstad, Sweden.

“Even if I was excited to be part of this programme, it was even better than expected. To give yourself the opportunity to reflect on self-awareness in your personal leadership and develop my skills with the best coach in Gabriela Müller was probably one of my positives during the pandemic. It was also very motivating to create friendships and to network with the other sport representatives. Really happy to be given this opportunity.” Petra Sörling

A successful venture, all extended their thanks to Hajera Kajee (ITTF Gender Commissioner) for the selection, and especially to Gabriela Müller Mendoza for the insights provided.

General News Petra Sörling Fatemeh Keyvani Nicole Smith Cadena Christine Arthur