By PHILIP CHANDLER
Queenstown Alpine Ski Team’s chair is hailing the benefits of a leadership course exclusively targeting former female Olympians.
Erika Harris (nee McLeod), who skied for New Zealand at the 2006 Winter
Olympics in Turin, Italy, graduated last Tuesday from the second intake of the NZ Olympic Women’s Sport Leadership Academy (WSLA).
She was presented with her certificate by Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy.
Following its set-up in the United Kindgom, about 350 women from 60 countries have taken part in WSLA courses.
Harris, who’s also on Snow Sports NZ’s alpine sports committee, says she took the course as ‘‘I was at a point in my life where I’d been a mum for a long time’’.
‘‘I was looking at what I was going to go on and do, and this opportunity came up and so I applied for it.
‘‘I have grown so much in my confidence throughout the course, and the
skills I have learned are something I am already putting into my life [with QAST and the alpine sports committee].’’
Harris says WSLA’s aim is to encourage females to stay in sport and take more leadership roles, where women are under-represented.
Course participants also split into groups to research an issue relating to women in sport.
“I was in the ‘Safe Sport’ group where our primary focus was the emotional abuse and body image issues for female athletes, which is an incredibly hot topic at the moment.
“It was really interesting, and we put forward recommendations which we hope many sports will take on board.”
She’s grateful she had the opportunity — ‘‘it’s something I think many females could do with’’.