Women in Sport High Performance Pathway (WISH) – Cohort 3 2023

The Women in Sport High Performance Pathway (WISH) aims to equip women coaches, who have the potential and ambition, to succeed in gaining roles at elite coaching levels within their sports. The Leadership programme has been developed to support Recommendation 6 from the IOC Gender Equality Review Report (March 2018), which states, as an action, to encourage:

Balanced gender representation for coaches selected to participate at the Games.’ Specifically, the working group recommends that ‘the IOC coordinates the development of an action plan in collaboration with Olympic Movement stakeholders for more women to be eligible and selected to participate at Olympic Games level. It is also recommended that a baseline for female entourage members at the Olympic Games is established.’

WISH objectives focus on developing sport-specific skills, enhancing career opportunities, as well as enhancing leadership competencies or behaviours. The programme is a joint venture between the International Olympic Committee (IOC), International Sports Federations and National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and is delivered over a period of 21-months with the following components:

  • Self-assessment and 360-degree feedback on leadership and sport specific competencies
  • Residential session for 5 days in the UK
  • 8 online leadership sessions
  • 8 leadership mentor sessions
  • 4 sport-specific mentor sessions

Cohort 3 of 2023 is running for 21 months from November 2022 – July 2024 and comprises 31 coaches from 25 countries, representing 9 International Federations. The group includes four (4) High Performance Rowing coaches –

  • Anna-Maria Gotz (AUT);
  • Brett Gorman (USA);
  • Caitlin Dace (RSA); and
  • Katie Bahain-Steenman (CAN)

Caitlin Dace:

My motto for 2023 is – true growth happens when one is stretched outside one’s comfort zone. Wow, was I out of my comfort zone! Arriving to a dinner with 30 powerful, strong and independent woman was absolutely terrifying, only to find that every session, every meal and every task would be with a new group of people. This tactic was incredible, ensuring that not only did I meet new people, I engaged with woman in a unique way. The week was filled with engaging tasks of table pong, courageous conversations on conflict and great one on one walkabouts.

It was such an honour to be a part of an incredible growth and learning opportunity. The Women in Sport High performance programme (WISH) hosted by the University of Hertfordshire was run by a group of strong and dedicated woman. The professional development offered through Olympic Solidary was rewarding and critical to my coaching career. I have learnt a great deal about myself, with strategies I will be utilizing in the South African rowing scene.

Anna-Maria Gotz:

The WISH residential as well as the GB rowing exchange program were an incredible experience of learning, enthusiasm, support, emotion, exchange and development for me. It’s an awesome opportunity for me to gain new insides into what leadership is about what I definitely want to apply in my coaching.

Brett Forman:

The WISH residential week was an amazing experience that I feel privileged to have participated in. Compared to other leadership development opportunities that I’ve been a part of, the female centric curriculum allowed for open and productive dialogue from the very first session at the beginning of the week. It takes years to build the professional relationships and support network that I feel the WISH Program provided me in one short week. The workshops run by the facilitators and the shared experiences of the 31 coaches in the program make this program first rate. In addition to the residential week, the opportunity to visit some of GB Rowing’s programs and shadow other rowing coaches reignited my love of coaching this amazing sport.

Katie Bahain-Steenman:

The start of the WISH program was an incredible empowering experience I felt privileged to be selected for the program and getting to know 31 coaches from different sports around the world has given me a new perspective and a great network all in one week. I’m looking forward to what the rest of the program has to bring and to share what I have learned with other coaches.

To date World Rowing has supported the leadership development of rowing coaches, initially as part of the WSLA HP Coaching Programme in 2019/20, now under the WISH banner, from 2022. The following coaches have successfully taken part in the programmes:

WSLA 2019-2021

  • Ibtissem Trimech (TUN)
  • Emma Benany (EGY)
  • Soulaz Abbasiazad (IRI)
  • Zane Putnina (LAT)
  • Clara Rohner (ARG)
WISH Cohort 2 of 2022 (ongoing programme)
  • Helen Brown (GBR)
  • Chryssa Biskitzi (GRE)
  • Pamela Weisshaupt (SUI)
  • Leticia Muziol (BRA)