Development of new female leaders in France


There is a lack of women leaders in sport.

Female athletes should have the same opportunities to develop as the male athletes

Female and male club members should be involved equally in non-playing activities and admin responsibilities to develop them as leaders in  the long run


The United Nations promotes sport as a vehicle for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls: “The participation of women and  girls in sport challenges gender stereotypes and discrimination [...]. In particular, women in sport leadership can shape attitudes towards women’s  capabilities as leaders and decision-makers, especially in traditional male domains.

The Wny Women’s foundation finds an opportunity to create more female leaders for society by supporting the role of sport. In our Ultimate community, there is an urgent need to develop junior female athletes to lead from an early age.

Case Study

In Erstein (France), Laurent Leipelt created the junior club UCE (Ultimate Club Erstein) in 2013 with around 20 juniors (boys and girls). Laurent  played with Sesquidiscus (Strasbourg, France) and Gummibärchen (Karlsruhe, Germany). He coached Sesquidistus in the mixed senior division  and notably led them to WUCC 2018 in Cincinnati.

UCE is now a club with girls and boys aged 16, who started at the same time at eight years old. Since the beginning it has been a priority for  Laurent to help them develop not only as ultimate frisbee players but also as responsible human beings, taking into account the prism of equality  every step of the way. Indoor hat games were quickly set up with the neighboring mixed team Sesquidistus to gain experience playing with  adults. The mini hat tournament was organised over a day, three times a year. Those organised games were pivotal for the season planning and  the progression of the children. Their aim was to be prepared for playing with the experienced players. In return, the experienced players served  as role models as a leader of a team and as players with high impact on a game.

Due to less physiological differences between girls and boys, they found it was easier to introduce a mixed sport at an early age (from eight to 10  years old). However, they noticed that girls revealed greater leadership within the club and better playing abilities playing in the mixed . Starting  division allowed the boys to be used to doing sport with girls, they observed that there is more respect between gender without issue of language  or intimidation towards girls. For young boys and girls, it is an opportunity to talk about gender equity maybe for the first time. With age, physical  differences started to appear but coach Laurent put an extra effort to keep the roles evenly distributed. He found the girls seem to prefer to lead  the game and play in the handler position. Moreover, Laurent believes young women athletes should also play in the women’s division to gain  experience and in consequence make the mixed team even better. Girls are leaders and captaining from a young age, and it is vital to keep that  dynamic throughout the teen years.

It was important to encourage everyone to be involved in the non-playing tasks for the club. For Laurent, it is essential for all them (along with  their parents) to take part in the assembly general meeting to learn about the life of the club, what are the costs involved, etc. During the season,  the leadership is delegated to the young athletes from admin tasks to championship and tournament registration and to kit ordering. 

Laurent had asked me and my friend Sarah Sirerol from UCE to be involved in the kit ordering,” said Marie Cassiau-Haurie,  aged 16. “He offered for us to do a bit more than just going to practice and playing tournaments. Our kit was a bit outdated, but  Laurent didn’t have the time to do it, so we did it. We loved doing it! We managed the whole process from design to ordering  and the follow-up with Lucky Grass. It was very new for us to get responsibilities like this, it took time and we needed to be  organised but it’s what is behind a team and a club, to think of the group. It wasn’t easy to find a design that everyone liked, and  more so that not everyone was giving their opinion.

Sarah adds “I will do it again because I loved the process of organising. It was eye-opening to see all the aspects of running a club.

At the moment, Laurent’s goal is to make 18 year old club members run and lead beginner’s practice. They love thinking about the game, the  strategies and how to improve. They have the opportunity to learn and develop as coaches during sessions organised by Sesquidiscus.

When asked beyond learning how to play ultimate, what is the most important lesson to teach the kids, Laurent says: “There are a few points to  emphasize: first, power and gender balance in a mixed team. Secondly, everything is important without making a big deal out of it!

When asked how to retain the younger players and keep them motivated, Laurent says: “Pay attention to everyone in a group, don’t let anyone  drift or be on the side. And lastly, they have to be in charge of non-playing activities within the club.

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