A week in the life of…….. Chairperson Carol Anne Stewart

FIFA – Female Leadership and development Program (FLDP)

January seems such a long time ago now. That was when I decided to re-focus my career and apply for a position on the FIFA Female Leadership Program (FLDP). The course is by application only and over 90 women across the globe put forward their applications for consideration.  I was not hugely hopeful as one of the criteria was that you had to be working with your association but low and behold one positive attitude and a couple of months later I received confirmation of my acceptance via Stewart Regan at the SFA.

The course itself is 3 x 5-day modules that take place over the course of the next 9 months. The first 2 take place at FIFA HQ in Zurich and the last one is in February in Amsterdam (although the women from warmer climates are trying to get this moved to the southern hemisphere to save them packing winter clothes they don’t even own!)

Sunday 5th June

I had actually arrived in Zurich on Friday the 2nd following a Women’s Football Marketing Meeting at UEFA HQ in Nyon with GCFC Club Manager Laura Montgomery. I travelled by train to Zurich and was picked up by a very posh Mercedes and chauffeur on the station platform. On Sunday evening we had an informal dinner in the hotel for all the attendees that had arrived from around the globe that were able to stay awake long enough before dropping their head in their dinner with exhaustion. It was at the dinner where I met my first friend of the week, Valentina from Uruguay. We were first to dinner which isn’t unusual for me or her, so I found out. Between 7-9pm lots of different women from around the world sat down to eat dinner with complete strangers and that was the start of one of the most amazing weeks of my life.

DAY 1 – Know why you are here

The day started off with music and within a few minutes …dancing …lots of dancing. The women from the southern hemisphere just have to hear one beat and they are out their seats dancing. It was hilarious and refreshingly liberating at the same time. The day was interesting as we discovered all our reasons for being there and having our beliefs and expectations challenged. We learned about how to become authentic leaders and the qualities that entails to be truly great.  Feedback featured a lot in the week and that can be uncomfortable for people who are really confident and believe they are invincible so many (not myself) found this difficult. I discovered that I was one of the oldest in the room but many had decades worth of experience in the game. 

DAY 2 – Lead from Passions Strengths, Values and Purpose

I was really at home in these sessions as they concentrated very much on visualisation techniques and writing your own future. We were also given our coaches on this day and I was given Elle who is from Amsterdam and is a coach for some impressive people around the globe. I get the chance to meet with Elle 3 times over the course of the next few months so I will have to choose my time carefully.

We were privileged to meet the first ever female General Secretary of FIFA – Fatma Samoura from Senegal . She took time to attend our session and she has not even started at FIFA yet.

DAY 3 – Drive break through change

It rained all day. This day was the most interesting as we learned how to tell our story to particular people in a particular way. We also discussed all the common threads that join us as a group of women in football – we learned about some of the most terrible challenges in some countries. It was definitely a day to acknowledge the bravery of some of the women in the room. They risked so much in promoting the game of football. We met our Mentors today also – mine is Heather Reid from Australia – she is an amazing woman and has done so much for Australian Soccer. I cannot wait to get to know her and work with her on my project.

The end of the day was the most challenging part of the week – we had to play 7 a side football. My body has not considered kicking a ball for about 10 years and I can assure you after my performance football is a safer place with me watching and not playing.

We had a great BBQ in the FIFA patio before heading off home tired and sore from our efforts on the park and swearing revenge in September when we return   -  it was all brave talk from me – I have every intention to be in the bar when that takes place next time.

DAY 4 – Build Impact and momentum

This was the day everyone had to present their project in 3 mins in the FIFA auditorium. It was fast and furious but best of all there was music to start it off so that involved more dancing. The afternoon involved us summarising a lot of what we had learned over the week and getting to spend time with our mentoring group. But the highlight was when Gianni Infantini decided to call in on us – spontaneously. He caught us all by surprise but was given a very positive welcome.