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


Kingdom of Saudi Arabia holds series of UWW activities

By United World Wrestling Press

MAKKAH, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (4 March, 2023)  - A series of UWW activities were organized in Makkah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from February 26 to 02 March, 2023 prior to the 2023 U17-U23 Arab Championships. The activities included an Introduction to Refereeing Course, a Coaching Course Level 2, and a Training Camp for Athletes. A total of 94 participants, including athletes, coaches and referees took part in the events. The educators were Ibrahim Ciciouglu (TUR), Hadi Hasan Ismael (IRQ), Juan Luis Maren Delis (CUB), Ahmed Khedhri (TUN), Hassan Madany (EGY) and Sherif Halawa (EGY).

These courses were held with the support of the Olympic Solidarity, Saudi Olympic Committee, United World Wrestling and Saudi Wrestling Federation. “I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the UWW Development Team and Saudi Wrestling Federation for their outstanding work in organizing the Olympic Solidarity Courses," said Kamel Bouaziz, President of the Arab Wrestling Federation and Vice-President of UWW Refereeing Commission. "The success of these activities has been crucial to the development of wrestling in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I commend the educators who have worked tirelessly to provide the participants with a world-class education. We look forward to continued collaboration with the Development Department in the future, as we work together to advance the sport of wrestling in KSA and across the region."

RefParticipants for the Introduction to Refereeing Course pose for a photo after the competition of the course.(Photo: United World Wrestling)

Introduction to Refereeing Course, 26-28 February 2023
The course was conducted by UWW Educators Ibrahim Ciciouglu (TUR) and Hadi Hasan Ismael (IRQ) and was designed to introduce participants to the fundamentals of refereeing in wrestling. The course covered the rules and regulations of wrestling, scoring and timing, and the role of referees in maintaining fairness and safety in the sport. They also studied evaluation of holds, referee mechanics, the start and end of matches, and referee positioning during the bout. The course was attended by 14 participants who participated in both theoretical and practical sessions on the mat. “One of the nice things about the course was that participants were very eager to learn. Interactive participation was at a high level for both theoretical and the practical parts. The questions they asked and their willingness to participate actively made the course very productive. They were trying to add to the improvement of wrestling in their country with their efforts in refereeing,” said UWW Educator Mr. Ibrahim Cicioglu.

CoachA group of coaches work together to plan a practice during the Level 2 Coaching Course. (Photo: United World Wrestling)

Coaching Course Level 2, 26 February – 02 March 2023
The coaching course was conducted by Juan Maren (CUB) and Ahmed Khedhri (TUN). The Level 2 Course focused on the Introduction to Practice Planning. The coach participants worked together in groups and individually to learn many aspects of practice planning. These included: how to plan practices for the week, determine the number of practice and the appropriate time for each age group, determine the type and number of training days, determine the objectives, and how to determine the drills for each practice. The course was attended by 44 coaches from different parts of Saudi Arabia. “ I wanted to emphasize the importance of practice planning. Throughout the course, we encouraged participants to engage in reflective learning methods and emphasized the value of teamwork to help them develop practical skills while receiving feedback. The course included both theory sessions and practical sessions on the mat, where participants learned Long-Term Athlete Development, technical performance analysis, risk management strategies, strength and conditioning planning, weight management, nutrition, athlete mindset, athlete safety, athlete safeguarding, anti-doping, and environmental impact. Overall, I believe that the course was highly informative and provided participants with a comprehensive understanding of coaching principles,” – said UWW Educator Ahmed Khedhri (TUN).

KSATwo athletes spar during the four-day training camp in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. (Photo: United World Wrestling)

Training Camp for Athletes
The Training Camp for Athletes was also held from February 26 to March 2, 2023. Training sessions were also led by UWW Educators Juan Maren (CUB), Ahmed Khedhri (TUN), with assistance of Hassan Madany (EGY). The camp covered technique, conditioning, and mental preparation. The camp was attended by 36 athletes. “Throughout the camp, we focused on developing the fundamentals of wrestling, including technique, strength, and conditioning. We also emphasized the importance of mental toughness, discipline, and sportsmanship, " said UWW Educator Juan Maren (CUB). "As a coach, I have a strong passion for the development and growth of wrestling in KSA, and I am excited to see the progress that these athletes will continue to make in the future.”

Words of participants
“Introduction to refereeing course was very useful for me. This course provides us with an overview of the wrestling rules, scoring system, and basic officiating techniques. Also we have learned referee mechanics, the start and end of the match, as well as respect and cooperation. I’m grateful for this opportunity to become an international referee,” – said Salem Mohammed Salem. 

“A distinguished course through which I was able to deepen my knowledge and acquire new knowledge and skills, theoretically and practically, in a pleasant atmosphere and teamwork. Thanks for Saudi Wrestling Federation and UWW for  giving this opportunity, and I hope for future participation in such courses,” - Magdy Rashad, Saudi national team coach.

“It was a good camp before the competition. The focus of the course was on the technical and tactical performance of each athlete.  This was done by training that was suitable for the pre-competition stage. Athletes also benefited from the presence of the Cuban coach Juan Maren.  I would like to thank United World Wrestling and Saudi wrestling federation,” – said U17 Saudi team athlete Manaf Mohamed Briek Elrashidy.