#ESP2019 warm-up about youth leadership in sport

Updated: Nov 19, 2019

Across Europe, thousands of enthusiastic and competent young people work in sport, most of them as volunteers. As we believe that volunteers are the everyday heroes of sport, we will talk about them extensively at the second European Sport Platform on 4-5 October 2019 in Rome. In one of the sessions, two good practices will be presented on youth volunteering and leadership in sport. One of the examples is ENGSO Youth, the other one is the New Leaders Programme of the Finnish Olympic Committee and its partners. In the lead-up to this session, we sat down with two of the speakers who will present these good practices: Michael Leyendecker, former Chair of ENGSO Youth, now ENGSO Executive Committee member and Ivana Pranjić, ENGSO Youth Committee member and New Leaders Programme participant.

Q to Michael: Why do you think it is important to have young people in leadership roles in organisations?

A: In my opinion it is very important to have young people in responsible positions, as these young persons are our future leaders. We need to give them the space and the trust to find their own way. Only then we can stay up-to-date and find new ways for new future problems and not always stick to the past. So the mixture of new young people and experienced people is the perfect match for an organisation.

Q to Michael: You have been involved in leadership positions in ENGSO Youth during the past two mandates and now you are in the ENGSO Executive Committee. How can your experience in ENGSO Youth help you in your new role?

A: My experience in ENGSO Youth will help me a lot in my future role in the Executive Committee, as I have experienced international work from the bottom and learned how to solve problems in international teams. This experience showed me how important and sometimes also difficult diversity is – but it is needed. It also gave me the chance to take responsibility in a safe surrounding without being in the main focus all the time, as it is sometimes in the ExCom of an organisation. This gave me the chance to find my own way without being under pressure.

Q to Ivana: You are a participant of the New Leaders Programme, organised by the Finnish Olympic Committee. What have you learned about leadership so far through the programme?

A: I’m very thankful for this opportunity, because the programme itself helped my personal development and growth in the past year a lot. Leadership theories and exercises contributed to a higher self-awareness as well as awareness of others. Good leaders are adaptable; they recognise and accept the diversity of characters. As leaders come in all shapes and sizes, I'm also not a static category. With every new experience I'm growing and embracing my weaknesses and limitations. Overall, I have more confidence and believe in myself and in my abilities.

Q to Ivana: How can you put into practice what you have learned through the New Leaders Programme, when working as a Committee member in ENGSO Youth?

A: As ENGSO Youth Committee members, we are serving a purpose and I learned to observe and evaluate the situation and people in order to get the best outcome. The programme was a confirmation of my interpersonal skills. Moreover, I learned techniques I can use to persuade people to invest in a good cause. Another enriching aspect was the acquirement of presentation, communication and problem-solving skills, which can be put perfectly into practice within my engagement with ENGSO Youth.

Michael and Ivana, along with ENGSO Honorary President, Birgitta Kervinen will talk more about youth in sports volunteering and leadership at the #ESP2019 on 4 October in Rome.