Last week's visit to Australia by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton brought back fond memories for AFL Victoria’s Female Development Manager Chyloe Kurdas from her recent trip to the USA.
Kurdas was handpicked as one of 17 international participants in Clinton’s inaugural Global Sports Mentoring Program focussing on empowering girls and women through sport, and was given the opportunity to meet the US Secretary of State during the program.
The program was created and run by the US State Department in collaboration with ESPNW, and those selected to take part were considered as emerging female leaders in sport across the globe.
Kurdas travelled to the States in September where she joined a group of women from around the world including Rwanda, Egypt, Russia, India, Brazil, Colombia, Philippines, Zambia, China, Indonesia, Zimbabwe, Macedonia, Nigeria, Tajikistan, Jamaica and Kenya.
The overall aim of the innovative program was to empower girls and women through the avenue of sport, with a key message of ‘Strong Women. Better World’.
The selected women, although all from different organisations and cultures, each face similar issues in their respective roles. The various issues revolve around equality in the industry and developing the areas of finance, sponsorship and the grassroots level of female sport.
Following a four day conference where the group discussed the different concepts of how to address these similar concerns, Kurdas travelled to Daytona Beach, Florida to be mentored by Nancy Henderson, Senior Vice President of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA).
Kurdas took on this once in a lifetime opportunity with open arms and was able to absorb information from both Henderson, who has accrued over 300 personal golf titles herself, and the LPGA.
"The mentoring process provided me with the unique opportunity to strategically analyse another sport through the lens of Australian Football.
"I found that the players are the LPGA’s biggest asset and that this can be applied to female football. Engaging elite players as ambassadors for the sport will provide young girls with influential role models and highlight the pathways that have been created for females in football," said Kurdas.
During Kurdas' 20 days with the LPGA, she was also provided with an insight into the entire management of the organization from the Marketing and Media departments to game day operations at the Navistar Classic tournament in Alabama.
The final four days of the Global Sports Mentoring Program were spent in Washington DC where the group of emerging leaders met again to deliver their respective action plans leading into the future. Grants to support the various projects were also discussed to ensure that the projects meet their desired expectations.
To culminate the program, a celebratory luncheon was held at the State Department where participants had the pleasure of meeting Hillary Clinton.
"Secretary Clinton has been a fantastic role model of mine since she was the First Lady," Kurdas said.
"I admire her willingness to invest in strong relationships with key decision makers to foster cultural change for the betterment and empowerment of women and girls globally."
Due to the success of the Global Sports Mentoring Program in its inaugural year, the initiative will continue in 2013.