The second edition of the Future Leaders in Football (FLF) course began on Thursday. FLF stands for values such as diversity, culture, inclusion and sustainability, and is an educational course aimed at supporting young leaders who are already involved in different roles in football. The workshop was developed collaboratively between the German Football Association and the Deutschen Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH under the ‘Sport for Development’ program. Unlike last year, the in-person event will take place in Amman, Jordan from 17th to 22nd March.
This year’s session is also unique in that it will include only female participants. A total of 26 young women and girls from various Middle Eastern and North African countries will participate. The aim is to not only support women and girls from these regions, but to also promote a sustainable and diverse future for the sport.
Heike Ullrich, the DFB’s deputy secretary general, delivered a personal address from the new DFB Academy to the participants in Amman, saying “Let us be active, let us be the thorn in their side sometimes, but also stay strong, stay together as a group in order to let us spread our message: “Female leaders, we are strong!” Female leaders will be an important part of leadership in the world of football in the future – I am certain of it.”
Samar Nassar (general secretary of the Jordan FA), Patrick Wolf (DFB head of institutional relations), Jens Elsner (Head of Programme Sport for Development, GIZ) and Henning Schick (Head of Programme Sport for Development, GIZ Jordan) were all on hand to welcome the participants at the official opening ceremony. Ute Eckertz, senior policy officer ‘Sport for Development’ from the federal ministry for economic cooperation and development (BMZ) delivered her speech virtually.
Nassar emphasised the importance of increasing female representation in the sport. “Women make up 50% of the global population. Football is a product of this society, which is why it is our responsibility to ensure that this 50% is represented in football as well, not just at the leadership level, but throughout the entire structure.”
The workshop aims to promote the understanding, development and application of methodical, cultural and social skills. The development of methodical knowledge regarding diversity, culture and sustainability in the context of sport leadership is also a focus. In general, the workshop seeks to present sport as a medium in order to create links to the various societies found in each respective country.
“Sport opens hearts and minds,” said Eckertz during her speech. The contents of the course and the interpersonal discussions during the five-day workshop are designed to address current issues in society and to promote sensibility on topics such as diversity and equality in the context of leadership.
Financial support for FLF is provided by BMZ, the UEFA Assist Programme and, for the first time, the DFB’s main sponsor, Volkswagen.
“Sport for Development” stands for Germany’s development work in several countries, which harness the power of sport in order to improve the quality of life for children and youth in partner countries. On behalf of the BMZ, various partner projects have been implemented by GIZ since 2013, with the DFB also drawing on its long-standing partnership with the BMZ. Under the joint “Sport for Development” project, several projects aimed promoting job-related and social skills amongst children, youth and coaches have been implemented in partner countries. One of the main targets is the 2024 EUROs in Germany, by which the aim is to have reached significant milestones in sustainable development.
Patrick Wolf, DFB head of institutional relations, addressed the participants during his welcome address and spoke about the importance of football in driving societal change. “We all share the responsibility of driving change in our society and football offers a big platform for socio-cultural and socio-political discussions. I am convinced that that all the young women in this course have the potential to help grow football, both on and off the pitch.” He added that for the DFB, it is not only their societal responsibility to share their knowledge and expertise with the world. “It’s also our passion, to be able to unite the world through football,” he said. “We believe that we all have the power to positively change the world through the fascination and appeal of football.”
The five-day workshop includes theoretical and hands-on sessions both on and off the pitch, including several lectures from inspiring figures from Jordan as well as two online sessions with Mirjam Lapp (DFB – Leaders League) and Claudia Krobitzsch (DFB – Diversity Manager). Former Australian athlete Bo Hanson will also host an online lecture, while participants will also be able to attend a get-together with a pioneer of German football, Monika Staab (current head coach of the Saudi Arabia women’s national team). The 26 participants will also be able to hear from inspirational women such as Yasmeen Shabsough, Operations Coordinator FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, or journalist and human rights activist Rana Husseini.
One of the participants is Nour Loubani, a youth ambassador for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. “I hope this program will allow the diverse group of participants to share experiences through workshops, on how to use football as a tool to positively impact society by improving social values and skills,” she said. “The most important thing is to strengthen the role of women and their creative and skilful influence in many areas, like that of sport.”
Loubani and her fellow participants will have plenty of time to explore and amass new experiences and knowledge during the remainder of the course.