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The Global Sports Mentoring Program

Making A Global Impact

The power of mentorship in the world of sports cannot be underestimated. Every team has a captain. Every captain has a coach. Leaders in sports can positively influence athletes to achieve their goals all of the way from the field to the boardroom.

From 2012 to 2017, more than 90 mentors participated in either GSMP: Empower Women through Sports or GSMP: Sport for Community. These highly-respected men and women represent a range of successful U.S. companies and organizations in the sports sector, including CEOs, senior executives, former professional athletes, top sports administrators, and visionaries in their fields. Aside from their accolades, what these mentors share in common is experience and a sense of purpose to “pay it forward.”

The 113 participants in the first seven classes of the GSMP come from every region of the world and describe their GSMP experience as invaluable and transformational—from a personal to a community level. Through a comprehensive matching system, mentors are paired based on the specific aims and objectives of their emerging leaders, who are also prominent athletes, advocates, administrators, executives, and educators in their own countries. The relationship developed over the course of their initial three-week mentorship period is mutually beneficial, equipping both parties with a strong sense of community, webs of support, new perspectives on how sport can be used in different contexts for social change, and  tangible strategies for how to enact change.

Past emerging leaders in the spotlight

Donna Carpenter, CEO of Burton Snowboards and a pioneer in women’s adventure sports, worked in 2014 with Wasfia Nazreen, a Bangladeshi mountaineer and social activist, on a platform for increasing the numbers of girls participating in outdoor sports in South Asia (the pair are pictured above). One year earlier, Alicia McConnell, director of community partnerships for the U.S. Olympic Committee, mentored Ugandan women’s national soccer coach Majidah Nantanda, whose work educating girls about HIV/AIDs prevention through sports was so successful that it was chronicled by CNN’s African Voices. By 2015, six mentors had participated in at least three classes of the GSMP. One of them, Julie Eddleman of P&G/Google mentored three different Brazilian women from 2012 to 2014—Cassia Damiani, Daniela Castro, Paula Korsakas—who would eventually collaborate across civil, business, and government sectors to become part of the National Sports System Working Group for the inclusion of women and minorities in sport. The GSMP propelled this ripple effect of positive change.

Nneka Ikem, a sports journalist and special advisor within Nigeria’s Ministry of Sports who participated in the inaugural 2012 GSMP: Empower Women through Sports, perfectly summarizes the value of the mentorship experience:

“When you change one person’s life, you change the life of the whole community that surrounds them. This program changing my life has changed the lives of hundreds of girls in Nigeria. For that reason, the GSMP means the world to me.”

Sport is a universal language that unites a mosaic of people from all over the world. It is the language that the participants in the GSMP speak to change their communities. And mentorship is a tool that allows that change to flourish from generation to generation whether in the United States or in the 63 countries where emerging leaders currently work to engage and empower thousands of people.