CATEGORY: Sussex Showcase

Trailblazing women join Sussex initiative working to change gender-imbalance across world sport


Trailblazing women join Sussex initiative working to change gender-imbalance across world sport


  • Women’s Sport Leadership Academy works to empower new generation of leaders to reach highest jobs in sport
  • Programme from University of Chichester has helped nearly 400 women from 60 countries since it launched in 2014
  • New research by UK Sport revealed that women leaders make up just 22 per cent of the top roles in international sport



RISING stars from across the sporting world have joined pioneering programme in Sussex which is working to address the gender-imbalance in global sports leadership.


The Women’s Sport Leadership Academy, known as WSLA, was established in 2014 to provide development opportunities for women leaders to make an impact.


It follows a report from UK Sport which revealed that female leaders make up just 22 per cent of the top jobs in international sport – including Olympic and Paralympic organisations.


The week-long WSLA initiative, led by the University of Chichester, returned this year for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic.


Organiser Dr Jordan Matthews, a senior lecturer at the University, said: “The under-representation and lack of development opportunities for women in sport has been identified for decades. Sport leadership continues to be male dominated, and we created WSLA to change this.”


The WSLA programme encourages fresh thinking and helps attendees enhance and reflect on their leadership identities to grow a strategic vision through training and mentoring sessions.


Since its launch eight years ago, the residential has helped nearly 400 people from 63 countries, and was recognised by the International Olympic Committee in its gender equality report.


Among this year’s group was Alyazia Sultan Al Suwaidi, from the Sharjah Women’s Sports Organisation in the UAE, who intends to take the programme back to her country to inspire others.


She said: “Having an opportunity like this is rare in the Arab world which is why I am keen to bring it to the UAE. There’s a strong sense of community at WSLA and I’ve made many new connections, also learning new communicative skills and leadership qualities.”


Guest speakers at the WSLA residential this year included Badminton England CEO Sue Storey, who spoke about leading the UK’s sixth-largest sport.


Alice Lowe from UK charity the Golf Foundation, part of the 2022 cohort, said: “It’s very powerful joining a group of female leaders in sport and getting opportunities to network with people across the world. WSLA is a unique experience and I’ll use the tools I’ve developed this week not only in my future professional career but also my personal life.”


Read more about the Women’s Sport Leadership Academy at