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Kick-off for new leadership programme aimed at female sports students 

Female sports leader on a pitch

Female sports students at two universities are set to lead the way thanks to a new international sports training programme funded by the British Council.  

The University of Wolverhampton, UK, and Universiti Malaya, Malaysia, successfully bid for almost £30,000 for the Female Sport Students as part of the Future Leaders programme.  

Participants will develop their leadership skills and confidence with the programme as it prepares and supports them to enter the sport industry workforce.   

A total of 30 female students (15 per institution) will take part in the programme in its first year.  

The programme will be developed and delivered in partnership with the British Judo Association (BJA), based at the University of Wolverhampton’s Walsall Campus, and the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM).  

Both national sport organisations are actively trying to recruit more women into leadership roles and have agreed to provide mentoring support and placement opportunities for programme participants. 

Dr Alison Forbes, Senior Lecturer and Sport Business Management Programme Leader at the University of Wolverhampton will lead the programme. She said: “We are delighted to have been successful in this bid for funding from the British Council. Women continue to be underrepresented in leadership positions in both the UK and Malaysia, despite increasing numbers of women and girls as participants in sport and physical activity. Academic staff and students from both institutions, along with the British Judo Association and Olympic Council of Malaysia will work collaboratively to co-create the leadership programme.  

“We are thrilled to be supported by British Judo and the Olympic Council of Malaysia and students will really benefit from the opportunities that they have agreed to provide. Working together in this way will ensure the leadership development of female student participants from the very start, whilst also ensuring that they can shape the programme in a way that suits their needs. The students will identify the skills and attributes they need to be successful sports leaders.” 

Sami Smithson, Head of Inclusion, Safeguarding and Wellbeing at British Judo Association, said: “As an employer and a sport which has had great success with developing inspirational female leaders, we are proud to be able to support such a fantastic initiative and look forward to providing mentoring and experiences to future generations of female leaders across sport.” 

Five online and five face-to-face workshops will then be delivered to support the female leaders to develop the required skills to work as leaders in sports organisations.  

The online sessions will be synchronous and include all programme participants, allowing students from the two institutions to work together and encourage an international approach.  

Face-to-face sessions will also be delivered by the respective institutions and consider the more local context.  

All participants will be supported by a work-based placement to put the skills developed on the programme into practice in a sports organisation. 

Further information

The Female Sport Students as Future Leaders programme is supported by the UK-Malaysia Institutional Partnership: Women in Sports Leadership Grant from the British Council. The UK-Malaysia Institutional Partnership: Women in Sports Leadership Grant supports collaborative projects that demonstrate impact in enhancing graduate employability through knowledge sharing, training and innovation across the areas of research, teaching and learning, and student experience, for UK and Malaysia.  

UK-Malaysia Institutional Partnership: Women in Sports Leadership Grant is part of a wider British Council programme called Going Global Partnerships, which builds stronger, more inclusive, internationally connected higher education and TVET systems.  

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