The Sports Tomorrow Congress (WOM+N)2021 the sports innovation congress organised by the Barça Innovation Hub, has started with more than 600 attendees on a first day of sessions that has featured sport business and sports medicine as its main themes, and with the participation, among others, of the players from the Barça women’s team, Marta Torrejón, Mariona Caldentey and Carolinie Hansen.
The sessions in the business track, held in Sala Roma, dealt with different topics related to the promotion of women’s football and the new business opportunities it represents, as well as the rising role of women in sport and how this must lead to equal opportunities and effective representation in this sector.
Women’s leadership was the focus of debate involving Marta Torrejón and Mariona Caldentey, accompanied by Rocío Pomares, director of FC Barcelona’s High Performance Sports Department. In the session, they described how they have matured from grassroots to the top of professional sport, highlighting the obvious inequality compared to men’s football. Caldentey and Torrejón stressed that leadership off the pitch (relations with staff, management, etc.) is almost more important than on the pitch and that such leadership is based on the trust and respect of the whole group. They personified their descriptions by drawing on the examples of Vicky Losada and Carles Puyol as ideal role models of leaders.
The club was also represented on Monday by Markel Zubizarreta, the sporting director of the women’s team, who, together with Stefano Braghin, director of the Juventus women’s team, discussed the growth of the transfer market in women’s football. The session highlighted the differences between women’s football in Spain (which is professional) and in Italy (which will not turn professional until next season) and the need for all leagues to have the same regulations in order to compete on equal terms. Zubizarreta explained how the transfer system is getting closer to that of men’s football and this is shown in the process of player registration, which is much more streamlined than in the past, and in the increasingly more common presence of professional agents for young female players.
Other prominent participants in the sports business track were Ebru Koksal, non-executive director of the Professional Footballer’s Association (PFA), an organization that brings together footballers from the Premier League, the FA Women’s Super League and other English football leagues; Mariël Koerhuis, General Manager of the Johan Cruyff Institute; Maria Tato, director of Women’s Football at the RFEF, and Amuary Vergara and Nelly Simon, president and sports director respectively of Club Chivas de Guadalajara.
As for the medicine and physiotherapy track, the presentations (in the Auditori 1899) dealt with, among other topics, the particularities of the female athlete’s body, what the most common injuries are and the methodologies to treat them, as well as the differences and similarities between men and women athletes in terms of the type of injuries.
Doctor Gil Rodas, medical director of the Barça Innovation Hub, Dr. Eva Ferrer, medical manager of the Women’s Team, Toña Lizarraga, head of the Nutrition Area, and first team doctors Lluís Til and Xavier Yanguas were other FC Barcelona representatives who participated in this first day.
Dr. Ferrer described the work methodology that FC Barcelona is using with its women’s team and how it has worked with the players to achieve better performance through the follow-up of clinical histories, nutritional advice and also psychological support, as well as helping to reduce injuries by doing various analyses, for example of internal and external workloads, in order to be able to work on their balance. Dr. Ferrer also stressed the need for more data on the effect of the menstrual cycle on women’s performance in sports, and referred to such disorders as dysmenorrhea and endometriosis can affect women and how it would help to have scientific evidence to accompany athletes throughout the season.
Other keynote speakers who took part in today’s session were Celeste Geertsema, one of the most important sports doctors in the world and who was the first woman to work as an official FIFA doctor at a World Cup (Russia 2018), and Kirsty Elliot Sale, Professor of Physical Education and Female Physiology at the University of Nottingham.
The medical track closed this Monday with a panel discussion on the rehabilitation process and with the session titled “From the athlete’s perspective – what is needed to reach the highest level in women’s sport” that was the part featuring Caroline Graham Hansen, Barça women’s player, who looked back at her career, from her beginnings in the world of football to becoming a professional. She also addressed issues such as the importance of mental aspects in a recovery process, feeling safe and the importance of learning and understanding this process, as well as the need for more information about how the woman’s body works in order to be able to take care of herself and perform at the highest level.


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