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10.06.2019 | Olympiakomitea

New Leaders in Action

With two out of three workshops already in the bag, the New Leaders Sport Leadership Education Programme is well over its halfway mark. The workshops held in Lithuania and Ireland highlighted the sheer will and desire the New Leaders participants, the game-changers, to challenge and leave an everlasting mark in the world of sport. Topics such as strategic goal setting, how to lead and understand others, conflict management and giving feedback were discussed, and viewed through the lenses of equality. A great deal of knowledge, experiences and good practices were transferred from one participant to another. The discussion often continued during lunches and dinners, showcasing the impressive eagerness of our participants towards the issues. It is safe to say, that the first two meetings have been hugely successful.  

In-between the workshops, the game-changers have applied their newly learned skills in their day to day activities. The main goal of the programme is to develop an action plan and implement the selected IOC Gender Equality Recommendations into action.  Several important milestones have been reached already as part of the action plan, as presented below. 

Rolling towards Tokyo 2020 

As of 2020, skateboarding will officially make its debut the Olympic Games held in Tokyo. This young and dynamic sport will bring a breeze of freshness to the Olympic programme hoping to attract more young spectators. Nevertheless, the sport is still widely male-dominated, and the number of female administrators and officials remains low. As a matter of fact, the number of internationally qualified female judges is a round zero.  

Daniele Facchinetti, a participant of the New Leaders programme and working in the Italian Roller Sports Federation, took the tackling of this issue on his agenda. From Daniele’s initiative, The Italian Roller Sports Federation organised a technical course in cooperation with the Italian NOC, World Skate and IOC Solidarity to further IOC’s Gender Equality recommendations. The course aims to train and educate 12 female judges and coaches with international qualifications, as well as introducing a quota for a more gender-balanced representation of both.  

The technical course held in Rome proved to be an instant success. Thanks to Daniele’s, and his colleagues, the world of skateboarding rolls towards a new period of gender-balance. As Daniele puts it:

– Big change comes always from the smallest of things. This seminar aims to be that significant small step towards a better tomorrow.

Daniele’s mentor, Maria Grazia di Valerio, was over the moon about her mentee’s recent success: “Since the beginning, he demonstrated strong commitment to the project, absorbing my insights while sharing his own field expertise. This has allowed us to develop a good action plan that ultimately led to the project implementation and rewarding outcomes we had”.

Small step for a man, but a huge leap for gender equality in Israel 

Gender equality in sport has taken a huge step in Israel. Yarden Har Lev, reached her first goal in the New Leaders programme in quite some style! Yarden, alongside the Israeli NOC and the Academic College at Wingate organised the 1st International Conference on Sport and Gender in Israel. The aim of the conference was to raise awareness of the necessary changes in women’s sport, in order to maximise the athletic potential of girls and women, to ensure a safe environment for training and competition, and discuss the challenges in women’s sport and to promote equality between men and women in Israel.  

The ground-breaking conference hosted an impressive list of guests, such as Nancy Liebermann, basketball legend and an Olympic Medallist and Igal Carmi, the president of the Israeli NOC. Even Thomas Bach sent a recorded greeting as the opening words of the conference. In all, the event was attended by over 200 participants, including sport managers, coaches, athletes, journalists, students and teachers of physical education. 

The conference was the result of a long and continuous work of Yarden and the whole New leaders programme. The first leap has been taken. However, the work has only just begun. According to Suzy Yogev, Chair of the Gender Equality Committee in the Israeli NOC women are still under-represented in the sport field, with a representation rate of only 21%. Nevertheless, light can be seen at the end of the tunnel and the will to make change happen is strong.

– With initiatives like this conference we can send an important message about the advancement of women in sport. We are committed to closing the gaps between the genders both inside and outside the sports arena. The objective of gender equality is not obvious, and we will do our utmost for it to be realized in Israeli sport, declared Igal Carmi, President of Israeli NOC. 

Women and Young Game-Changers taking over at IOC 

Two weeks ago, the International Olympic Committee announced a significant growth in the number of female memberships, as well as young change-makers along its newly composed commissions. 45.4% of the seats will be occupied by women, which is a new all-time high. Additionally, emphasis put on youth representation in the commissions proved to be fruitful: positions held by Young Change-Makers saw a rise from 7 in 2018 to 16 in 2019. 

One of the new Commission members is Laura-Maria Tiidla. Laura-Maria was appointed to the IOC Sport and Active Society Commission, which advises the IOC Executive Board and the IOC President on the societal benefits of sport, such as promoting active lifestyle in the society, with a special focus on young people. Laura-Maria’s interests, and main theses to work with in the commission, revolve around two main themes. Firstly, she places a great deal of importance on the preventative work of the non-communicable diseases and the vital role that physical activity plays in increasing the health and well-being of the general population.

– Secondly, I’d like to promote universal access to sport and physical activity for everyone regardless of their race, gender, physical abilities or socio-economic status, Laura-Maria adds. 

Laura-Maria says that she is proud to represent Estonia and cannot wait to start working with his new colleagues and fellow 15 Young Change-Makers, that were appointed to the IOC Commissions. “She also has a very clear message to the rest of the sport movement.

– I am very proud of the IOC’s commitment to welcome more diversity and fresh perspective to their Commissions and I hope that this will be an example for other sport organisations under the Olympic umbrella to follow suit.

Again, congratulations Laura-Maria! 


Each New Leader participant, a game-changer, will walk away from the New Leaders Sport Leadership Education with an action plan to implement the IOC Gender Equality Recommendations into action. The best action plans will be presented during the New Leaders Forum, November 18-20 in Helsinki.  


For more information go www.newleaders.fi or email niina.toroi@olympiakomitea.fi. Be part of the journey on Instagram @newleaderseurope and follow in social media #LeadtheChange #NewLeaders #GameChangers



New Leaders is a legacy project of Ms Birgitta Kervinen, 2017 IOC Women and Sport World Trophy Winner. New Leaders Programme and its Forum are joint efforts of IOC, EOC and the Finnish Olympic Committee. NOCs of Lithuania, Ireland and Azerbaijan are the host countries for the workshops. New Leaders Sport Leadership Programme, its three workshops and a closing forum educate 30 participants to become game-changers in the period of one year. Concrete action plans will be designed on a personal and organisational level, implementing the IOC Gender Equality Recommendations into action and creating a culture of change in Europe.”