One week to WSLA 2023!

This time next week, I’ll be in a room surrounded by 36 outstanding women in sport leadership, gathered for the WSLA 2023 Residential Week – not forgetting the incredible co-facilitators and Leading Edge Team Coaches dedicated to delivering engaging learning and development.

If the acronym ‘WSLA’ is new to you, it stands for the Women’s Sport Leadership Academy. [By the way, everyone involved pronounces it ‘Wisla’, which is much easier to say!]

This is my second year working with WSLA; they’re an incredible organisation driving forward the importance of having more female leaders with a voice at the table.

The annual residential programme is one way that WSLA supports women from around the world to fulfil their leadership potential, enabling them to have a greater influence and impact on the global sporting landscape.

Leading Edge are again delighted to develop and deliver this programme, building on last year’s incredible residential. The positive feedback we received from both delegates and stakeholders was humbling.

Building on success

The journey to WSLA 2023 has been all about recognising the successes from 2022, closely reviewing the feedback, thoroughly understanding what’s important to participants and, in true high performance spirit, focusing on where we can make real gains.

Our approach from last year still rings true, so we’re holding on to the three key pillars –creating the right learning environment, using an overarching frame to explore the tensions of leadership, and the power of owning your own story – and making tweaks to enhance the week overall.

We’re delighted to have an extra day in the programme this year, allowing more time to explore and go deeper with discussions on topics important to the women we’re hosting. This will include drawing on recent academic research undertaken by Dr Jordan Matthews, WSLA Programme Development Officer, and UK Sport looking at the role and impact of networking in international sport governance and the challenges women experience.

This year, a more structured 360 will lead into the week. Our 2022 review highlighted how much participants valued the 360 as a way to gather feedback to help them better understand themselves, giving them a strong starting point from which to identify their super strengths and development areas and what they’d like to work on over the course of the week.

The additional time will give participants plenty of opportunity to experiment, practise with the tools given and create a focused development plan highlighting the areas they want to continue to hone post the residential.

36 incredible participants – 18 countries 

WSLA received enough applications for 2023 to have filled the programme twice over, with such quality applications making the selection process very difficult. This cohort will comprise the most geographically diverse one ever, with 36 women coming from 18 different countries.

I am so excited by the diversity these women will bring in terms of thoughts, experiences, perspectives and cultures. It’s very inspiring for me – being in a room with 36 other females who are driving to be better, to make a positive change for women in sport and what that represents, and to support and inspire each other’s leadership journey.

I know I’ll learn so much from being around such talented and inspirational leaders, and feel very fortunate to be involved with this incredible organisation; it’s a unique experience, and I’m aware that not many have the opportunity to be involved in something they’re so passionate about while being in a position to make a positive difference.

Leading Edge Team Coaches Tina Dullaghan and Helen Richardson-Walsh will co-facilitate alongside three women from previous WSLA cohorts. One was a participant last year, so it will be brilliant to work alongside her.

After holding our facilitator briefing session a couple of weeks ago, it’s clear that we’re a team of passionate individuals all excited about what the week will involve – and what the amazing 2023 cohort will get out of it.

Last year, WSLA 2022 was easily one of my highlights, so I really can’t wait to be part of it all in just a week’s time.



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