Women in Wrestling: Leaders Reflect on Experience in WSLA Program

By United World Wrestling Press

CORSIER-SUR-VEVEY, Switzerland (March 1) -- Some of wrestling's up-and-coming leaders last week completed the Women's Sport Leadership Academy for High Performance Coaches Program. Clarissa CHUN (USA), Lotta ANDERSSON JOHANSSON (NOR), Diletta GIAMPICCOLO (HUN/ITA) and Jessica MEDINA (USA) were each successful at graduating from the groundbreaking leadership program.  

An assortment of IF's teamed up with the IOC's Olympic Solidarity program to offer the 14-month WSLA program for a limited number of high-performance coaches. The program was in direct support of Recommendation 6 of the IOC's Gender Equality Review Project, which seeks to increase the share of female coaches at the Olympic Games.  

United World Wrestling was the instigator among five other International Federations to drive this first initiative of its kind for the development of women in coaching.    

 The coaches developed skills in many areas through the program, including developing effective leadership skills to further their development as coaches and leaders in wrestling. They completed activities and projects on their own throughout the 14-month program and spent the final two months attending multiple online sessions. The coaches also worked with a leadership mentor from WSLA and a sport-specific mentor to help improve specific leadership and sport specific competencies. 

The women who participated in the program recently reflected on the experience.  

Clarissa Chun: "The Zulu word 'Ubuntu' means I am because of you, you are because of me. This philosophy helps describe my experience in the Women's Sports Leadership Academy High-Performance Coaches Program. The program brought global perspectives, which sparked creative ways of working together. We expanded our leadership and communication skills and laid the foundation of a support network that will continue to grow as we share ideas and experiences beyond the WSLA program. Mahalo to everyone involved in the WSLA HPC Program. I would also like to extend my appreciation to United World Wrestling, USA Wrestling, and Olympic Solidarity in supporting my development as a coach."  

 Lotta Andersson: "The greatest thing for me about being a part of the WSLA program is meeting all of these strong motivated and successful female coaches from different sports from different parts of the world. I have a greater understanding of how important it is to have a strong network around you for support, motivation, and cooperation. Getting more and more women as coaches and leaders involved in high-performance cultures is important for the future. I think this means that more athletes also see the opportunity to continue living with sports as a profession. I also think it is important to make women realize that you can be just as good whether you have a male or female coach."  

Diletta Giampiccolo: "The greatest gift the WSLA program gave me was the realization that I am not alone as a woman in the sports world. Since 25 women coaches in 6 Olympic sports from 5 continents participated in the program, I felt that I was a part of a great community. It made me realize that regardless of where you live and work as a woman, we all deal with the same problems. The WSLA program has taught me to reach out for help and if we work together nothing is impossible."  

Jessica Medina: "I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to join the WSLA program. The course focused on key leadership skills that translate directly into high performance coaching. I was able to build a network of 25 coaches from 23 countries in 6 sports. We had the same challenges and we were able to support one another in overcoming obstacles including the COVID-19 pandemic. I'm grateful to United World Wrestling and the IOC for the support they have extended in supporting female coaches. The future is bright!"  

The WSLA Leadership program was renewed for another year with dates to be defined in the coming months. Scholarship applications for interested individuals and NFs will be sent in due time.

For more information on the activities of the United World Wrestling development department check out www.unitedworldwrestling.org/development


Benin Wrestling Federation Conducts Level 2 Course on Introduction of Refereeing and Wrestlers

By United World Wrestling Press

The Benin Wrestling Federation with the support of United World Wrestling (UWW) and the United Francophones Federations (UFFL) recently conducted a weeklong course for level 2 coaches on the introduction of refereeing and wrestlers. The courses launched May 17 at the  Auditorium Marius Francisco of CNOS-Ben and concluded May 29.

Twenty-eight participants, including four women, from all departments of Benin were able to build their competences around refereeing, coaching, preparation and development. Under the leadership of Vincent Aka and Christian Danga, two experts from United World Wrestling, these training courses offered the participants the opportunity to acquire new lessons to enrich their knowledge of Olympic wrestling.

At the opening ceremony, Benin Wrestling Federation President Yves Azifan spoke on the importance of the courses and promised to make it a real opportunity to boost the development of Benin wrestling.

"In view of the new sports policy defined above all with the will of the new Executive Committee, to set up a national technical direction, the Benin Wrestling Federation undertakes to make operational, all the referees and coaches who take part to this course for the promotion and the development of the Beninese fight," said Azifan.

Christian Danga situated the context in which these training course took place and invited the beneficiaries to make the most of them. 

"This training should not take place. We really had to stand up and say something had to be done. Because right now the corona is there and always proves everyone right not to work. The whole point is not to come and think about getting a diploma and going home. We want people who work. What are you going to do with what you are going to receive? We cannot talk about development without training. When we train, it's to develop. If people don't develop, it's absolutely no use."

Fernando Hessou, secretary general of the Benin National Olympic and Sports Committee, spoke on the importance of the training and instruction. 

"From now on we must make the development of skills our leitmotif," said Hessou. "No one will receive training and go to sleep on their laurels. It's over! We are fortunate to have experts who are our brothers and friends, who are ready to give us everything so that we have well-trained referees and coaches, people capable of investing in schools, rural areas, to find us wrestlers who will bring back medals. We have beaches. The whole south is covered with beaches. So, it's a chance to have experts like them, by focusing on training, it's wanting to move forward, ”

On behalf of the Minister of Sports, Christophe Nonvignon Okry invited the participants to attend and participate in a spirit of participation. 

"I must congratulate you on the chance to have them both at the same time for about a week. You should take advantage of this incredible chance that you have two experts. You should do everything to get the most out of them. You have to stay focused enough, get attached to what you are here for. Do not leave here with any doubts whatsoever ... No doubt should remain from the moment you have this chance. You should do everything to ensure that at the end of the roll, Benin can qualify athletes directly to the Olympic Games, "he said.