Here in Wales we’re heading for another exciting summer of sport, starting with the men’s and women’s UEFA Champions League Finals in June, watched by hundreds of millions of people worldwide.
Those few days around the time of the finals will make for an incredible occasion, showing our country at its finest, and assuming Gareth Bale will be free of injury, he’ll have the chance to write history as the first Welshman to play in a European final in his home town.
Of course, the occasion, one of the biggest in the sporting world, will bring with it many benefits: it will generate revenue across the region, invigorate tourism and inspire another generation of young men and women footballers to take to the pitch.
Additionally, it won’t just be football inspiring Welsh youngsters this summer. Over the next few months some of the world’s finest cricketers will be in Wales for the ICC Champion’s Trophy, Geraint Thomas will be back on his bike for the Tour de France and our rugby stars will be in action in the southern hemisphere for Wales and the Lions.
With so many incredible sportspeople to turn to for inspiration, it is no wonder that Welsh businesses have always been keen to align themselves with them to promote their brands, enjoying opportunities for business development and learning from their stories and success.
At Acorn, we have long seen the benefits of affiliating ourselves with sport, whether for commercial, community-centred or learning and development reasons. From sponsoring Newport County for some 14 years, Tata Steel’s football team or the Cromwell Under 13s, to organising charity events like the CEO Kickabout in partnership with Football Association Wales Trust, we have seen tangible results from our engagement in sport.
Over the years we have also employed a number of sportspeople such as former international rugby greats Mike Ruddock, Paul Thorburn and Stuart Davies, world squash professional Adrian Davies, and GB cycle speedway international Nick Evans. In doing so we have found that working closely with sportsmen and women can teach us a lot about how to succeed in the workplace.
Sportspeople demonstrate an incredible level of mental toughness; training day in, day out, finding reserves of energy that even they possibly didn’t know they had; teaching us about the value of teamwork and demonstrating the qualities of strong leadership, discipline, good communication and an insatiable appetite for learning.
Two days before Real Madrid and Juventus face off in the Principality Stadium, Lyon take on Paris-St-Germain in the EUFA Women’s Champion’s League (EWCL) Final in Cardiff City Stadium on 1st June; the first time that both finals have been played in the same city.
To coincide with this exciting showcase of the women’s game, we have again joined forces with the Football Association Wales Trust to host the ‘Leadership, Teamwork and Empowerment: Inspiring Women in the Workplace’ event, at the Cardiff City Stadium during the afternoon of the day of the women’s final.
Hosted by the BBC’s Dot Davies, who has herself made successful inroads into the traditionally male preserve of sports reporting, high-profile guests include Sophie Howe, the world’s first Future Generations Commissioner, Lowri Morgan, the Adventurer, TV Presenter and journalist, Elin Haf Davies, author, adventurer and ocean rower, and La-Chun Lindsay, Managing Director of GE Aviation Wales.
And renowned business leaders here in Wales, Alwen Williams (BT), Sue butler (S4C), Rhian Langham (Principality), Fflur Jones (Darwin Gray) and the Western Mail’s Catrin Pascoe have worked with us to help make the event happen.
Whilst the balance has been improving in recent years, more can be done to ensure that equal opportunities and support are available for women to progress their careers in whatever profession or sector they chose to work in. We’re hoping that those attending on the 1st June will benefit from the chance to learn from these amazing speakers and be further inspired shortly afterwards as we watch the women’s final together.
It’s fantastic that here in the UK, in Wales, we’re hosting the Women’s Champions League Final, and we’re delighted that we’re able to use it as a catalyst, we hope, to fuel others’ ambitions, as such an occasion should do.
The individuals who worked tirelessly to get these events to Wales, from the Football Association of Wales, The Wales Office and the Welsh Government should be applauded – it is fantastic that we have both finals here and it reinforces Wales a world-class sporting and events destination. Please keep it up – occasions like these are not just important to the economy at the time, but they also have a significant cultural impact, by triggering our national psyche to help inspire, inform and empower all of us.
Matt Southall is Group Managing Director of Wales’ leading multi-specialist recruiter, Acorn www.acornpeople.com