Some people are dreaming in front of their TV, looking at Dancing with the Stars. I look back to what was achieved this year and I know I have learned to SWinG!
As 2019 is slowly coming to an end, I wanted to take the time of looking back. Sharing with you all my learnings and excitement regarding the SWinG project is soemthing I am committed to. The project officially started on 1st January 2019. If you don’t know it yet, SWinG is a collaborative project co-funded by Erasmus+ Sport. It is led by the French Federation for Company Sport (FFSE) with the support of nine other key partners.
So much have been achieved in just few months, from the kick-off meeting with partners to the Mentors Orienteering Session and the Mentees Empowering Session… And so much more need to be done it could be overwhelming. All this to achieve our ambitious goal of developing the art of opening for women in decision making role in sport.
SWinG – Dancing with the stars: Where it all started
I am unsure what we –Carole Bretteville and I- were thinking of when writing the application back in Feb/March 2018… For this project is incredibly ambitious and challenging. With no less than 9 intellectual outputs to be produced as well as the development and live testing of a concept of empowerment and mentoring,.. One can think we were definitely determined to beat around the bush and develop something entirely new. The SWinG project is the first of its kind in the field of sport. Its mentorship scheme will support twenty women from across Europe in achieving their goals. Selected mentees have big ambitions for where they want to go in their elective careers in sport. But also for what change they want to implement once they get there.
To be short, the first 11 months of the project have been both challenging and inspiring.
SWinG – Dancing with the Stars: a challenging experience
Challenging because just like in any other EU funded and transnational projects, it is not always easy to pace up the flow of work. Neither is it easy to make every partner come on board at the same time. And I’m not even mentioning here the administrative challenge of bringing in –for the first time in an Erasmus+ project- an American partner… Gosh the lasts months of 2018 and first two months of 2019 allowed me to become an “expert“in the difference between American and European systems. What a “joy” it has been navigating their adlinsitrative and legislative labyrinths.
The project also challenged me because we had to run full stream from the very beginning. Indeed a lot had to happen during the first year of the project for us to achieve our ambition. For with SWinG we want not only to develop, test and pilot a new approach but also to ensure a legacy and learn from each step, in order to prepare for a v.2 of the SWinG application.
Challenging as well because I step out of my comfort zone so many times: from leading a European project to teaching myself how to create engaging professional videos, to creating a curriculm and delivering session to mentors as well as empowering workshops to the mentees… Did I mentioned we had to believe in ourselves, our instinct and our process when applying for the first time the SWInG matching matrix and theory of change, No doubt this was a huge challenge as well… I’m smiling at myself as I am writing it down.
There has not been a week in which SWinG did not challenged me in 2019… And I AM SO VERY GRATEFUL FOR IT.
SWinG – Dancing with the Stars: an inspiring experience
The process has been also very much inspiring. Through this incredible journey I had been lucky to walk next to inspiring leaders in and outside the sport sector.
I am wo very grateful for the great vibes and work around #SWinG.
From the partners who have worked hard since January to bring to life not one but FIVE Intellectual OUTPUTS. Not to forget their active contribution to the call for participants and then the sessions for mentors and mentees.
But SWinG would be nothing without the trust of the mentors and mentees who joined us in the journey. I have so much respect for them and their willingness to embrace such a challenge. After all SWinG is totally new! In fact, the whole concept of SWinG – Dancing with the Stars would be pointless without their involvement!
Met the stars!
As we were reflecting back with the partners during our 3rd and last meeting of the year in November in Copenhagen, we could not help but mention the following. Even in our wildest dream we could not have dreamt of such a success. Neither of such a warm welcome for the initiative. For instance, we received 49 applications as mentees and 47 as mentors! While the SWinG call for participants had been opened for only 3 weeks late July-Beginning of August… As a result of an intense and hard selection and matching exercise, 20 couples of mentors and mentees had been forged. They are gathering 22 nationalities across the European continent.
On 4th October, I had the privilege of gathering the SWinG Mentors, who are all incredible skilled and human leaders… All of them I would look up to as role model. It was thus extremely powerful and inspiring to hear all of them in Paris -during the SWinG Mentors Orienteering Session- committing themselves to act as a CATALYST FOR CHANGE in boosting access of women to elected leadership positions in sport. What is even more promising being certainly the wave that was created and the expressed willingness to work together as a pack.
When turning to the other side of the pair, I cannot help but wonder what can I say about the SWinG mentees? Their grit and willingness to step up for change is what struck and inspired me most. They are all very different, something we knew from the selection process (different age, background, experience and characters). And yet we come to realize as we gathered them in Copenhagen from 8-10 November 2019 to start the next stage in their volunteer journeys they all share a common sparkling lights, that of inspiring leaders.
My SWinG takeaways so far
So yes when I look back at those first months of the SWinG project, I have the mix feelings of exhaustion, surprise, and yet anticipation for what is next to come. That’s I guess what is as close as I can get from myself. Just like a pad on the back to self-saying: “a work well done so far”. 🙂
I am very much aware, we are not there yet and we need to keep being critical to ourselves. Many things could have been done differently in this pilot initial phase. We are learning from it. But instead on focusing on what did go not as good as I wanted to, I am focusing on striving and growing from the experience. And true is, I am also building from the feedback received so far when I received feedback such as:
“SWinG will change the position of women in Europe followed by the rest of the world. I am sure of that.” Marijke Fleuren, President of the European Hockey Federation, SWinG Partner
“We wouldn’t got where we are without you. You have directed the project with a master’s touch, producing great output. Congratulations and thanks.” Cécile Bernheim, President of PWN Paris, SWinG Partner
“One of the best things that 2019 has brought me was to be part of this motivating project, which sets such a positive precedent in the path of women’s leadership in sports and, by extension, in all spheres of life. I feel very fortunate to be part of such a powerful team, with such strong values. I want to particularly thank you for your excellent coordination, as you are the link that makes such diverse parts work well aligned, also giving us a great positive attitude and sense of humor 🙂 I am convinced that next year will bring us even more and better!” Arantxa de la Pena, CRM & Customer Operations Manager at Amplifon group, SWinG mentor from Spain
“I’ve met a lot of people – even a lot (age allowed me!), But Carole was one of the few people who made me feel like a good person faster! Because it was your encouragement and understanding that made me “risk” and go on the adventure! I loved to know the group and the methodology that was used to integrate and get to know each other. I loved seeing, in the organization, such a young team with a fantastic professional and social competence! Congratulations!!!! Thank you for allowing me to meet you!” Isilda Dias, SWinG mentee from Portugal
This year has proved that opening dialogue on diversity in the boardroom is critical to level up the playing field in sport. And rest assure this was just the beginning as we are all getting ready to SWinG in 2020.