Empowering women coaches: WISH residential week kicks off with four rowing coaches

This week, four women rowing coaches began their learning journey as part of a 21-month WISH – Women in Sport High-performance pathway programme. The programme kicks off with a week residential at the University of Hertfordshire, UK.

WISH aims to support women coaches to progress to high-performance coaching roles at national, continental and international competitions. WISH is supported by the Olympic Solidarity, the University of Hertfordshire and several International Federations and National Olympic Committees.

Under the banner of “Empowering Women Coaches”, 21 women spent the week immersed in activities designed to further develop their leadership skills, confidence and careers. Representing 11 sports and 17 countries, the coaches were selected by their International Federations (IFs) and National Olympic Committees (NOCs) for their individual achievements, potential and ambition.

World Rowing supported four rowing coaches to join the programme:

  • Helen Brown (GBR)
  • Chryssa Biskitzi (GRE)
  • Pamala Weisshaupt (SUI)
  • Letícia Muziol de Oliveira Soares (BRA)

The residential week covers modules ranging from self-assessment and self-exploration, leadership competencies, building your support network and how to lead under pressure. Leadership is central in WISH.

Following the week residential, the coaches will work with a leadership mentor and a sport specific mentor to further develop their leadership and coaching skills.

World Rowing is also working to support sport-specific learning opportunities for the coaches. Prior to the residential week, WR coordinated a co-coaching experience for Chryssa, Pamela and Letícia with Helen Brown in Twickenham Rowing Club Start Programme and with GB Rowing.

Helen Brown: “I enjoyed connecting with other coaches from different sports and nationalities, who work at a similar level in the performance pathway. In particular, the other rowing coaches and seeing the similarities and differences of our national programmes. I look forward to retaining these important connections as we progress on our coaching journeys.

Pamela Weisshaupt: “This programme by the IOC is so important and meets a real need within High Performance Sport. It is fantastic to see this and similar initiatives looking to support more HP women coaches.”

Chryssa Biskitzi: “For me, this program has a great opportunity to learn more to support my coaching career, not only sport specific but to have complete empowerment. Through WISH, I not only found ways of self-improvement but also to drive performance and empower others.”

Letícia Muziol de Oliveira Soares: “Participating in the WISH Program is an amazing experience that has given us a lot of tools to better connect with ourselves and others. It has been fascinating to meet so many amazing women, hear so many stories and realising that we all have our struggles, but we are still strong, moving forward and now we can support each other even more.”

The WISH program builds on the pilot program, WSLA HP Coaching, in 2019/20. The pilot program yielded some very positive results for the five rowing coaches involved:

  • Ibtissem Trimech (TUN) recently coached two gold medal U19 crews at the World Rowing Beach Sprint Finals in Pembrokeshire, Great Britain.
  • Emma Benany (EGY) is working as a national coach for Egypt
  • Soulaz Abbasiazad (IRI) is working as a national coach for Iran
  • Zane Putnina (LAT) is qualified as a World Rowing Coach Educator
  • Clara Rohner (ARG) is working as a rowing coach at Miami International RowHouse.