Future Leaders in Football work towards socially responsible leadership

It was kick-off time for 22 Future Leaders in Football on Monday, 7th June starting the 5-day virtual leadership course as part of GIZ’s Sport for Development activites. The young leaders from 15 countries were welcomed by the head of the sub department 11 for private sector, trade, employment and digital technologies of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) Dr. Tania Rödiger-Vorwerk together with Eva Jacobi, who is leading the international CSR projects of the German Football Federation (DFB).

DFB and BMZ through GIZ’s Sport for Development programme have initiated Future Leaders in Football together with the partner organizations Streetfootballworld and Scort Foundation. With growing social challenges around the globe, emphasis is put on young people to proactively lead the way towards sustainable and positive social change, on and off the field. And as a universal language and a passion shared all over the world, football can play a part in developing the skills and competences to become socially responsible leaders, to build bridges and to connect people and cultures. Nikita Filipov, 27, from Ukraine is convinced when he says, “I believe football is more than football and helps to tackle social barriers”.

In the context of the EURO 2020 to be held from 11th June – 11th July 2021 in 12 of Europe’s most iconic places the idea was to bring together the Future Leaders in Football and develop together the tools and knowledge to become changemakers in their organisations and communities.

During the 5-day virtual course the participants are learning about the concepts of leadership and how they can integrate Sport for Development and overarching topics of German Development Cooperation such as sustainability, gender equality and inclusion into their work. In addition, the participants are actively working on their own personal development by reflecting and analyzing their communication behavior and leadership styles. With inputs of business psychologist Karl Lines and coaching consultant Bo Hanson they are taking a deep dive into their own behavior and what it means to be a leader in these challenging times.

The diverse group of future leaders is contributing to the lively discussions with their experience from all over the globe. Be it the women’s football club in Ecuador or the sport programme for children with disabilities in North Macedonia. Even in this short amount of time the participants have grown a strong bond over their passion for leadership, football and for using physical activity to achieve sustainable positive change in their communities. Akanksha Chhibber from India plans to integrate sustainability measures into her work and daily life at the All India Football Federation: “At the Future Leaders in Football course I am learning about sustainable development, how it can be fostered through sport and sporting events. It is a topic I did not know much about earlier and how it can be integrated in my work. I believe that sport can make a huge difference, personally it has me more socially responsible and initiated a drive in me to give back to society”. The future leaders motivate, inspire and push each other to think in new ways and take this opportunity to network with likeminded young people across borders.

A unique group of future leaders with drive and passion can only leave us with positive thoughts for the future of sport.