Leadership in Sport – new education programme for CSR managers

Een groep cursisten in een zaal met docent
Photo: Eredivisie CV, Anniek Donkersteeg.

Utrecht University and Eredivisie CV have jointly launched a training course focused on the social role of professional football organisations. Leadership in Sport is a six-month programme aimed at CSR managers of Eredivisie and Keuken Kampioen Divisie football clubs. Within the programme, they examine the role of the CSR/social manager, trends and developments, competences and personal leadership. The first group of participants started on 15 January. We want to ensure that social value creation in football is more firmly established,' says one of the programme coordinators, Jan-Willem van der Roest. 'In addition, we want to create education opportunities in sport - which are really limited at the moment. As of the next edition, participants from other sports organisations are also welcome to join the programme.

According to Jan-Willem van der Roest, as well as Aukje Geubbels (Eredivisie CV) one of the programme coordinators of the new programme, the opportunities for education for professionals in sport was limited, up until now: There are leadership programmes, but they are predominantly aimed at the top segment. Especially for people who are halfway through their career in sport and want to develop further, there was very little opportunity. As part of our partnership with the Eredivisie, we have now developed this first edition of the programme for this specific target group, after a pilot phase last year. This group needs further professionalising. That's not just about skills but also about how they can grow in their own jobs.

We want to ensure that social value creation in football is more firmly established

Jan-Willem van der Roest

This edition is aimed at people working in professional football organisation. We want to ensure that social value creation in football is more firmly established, says Van der Roest. We see that happening already, it is being taken more and more seriously in football. Sponsors want to establish partnerships but not only on the sportive and business front, often because they have CSR objectives themselves. They of course want to know what is happening with their investments, for accountability reasons. So, the CSR function of football is professionalising and we want to contribute to that.

Wider target group from next edition onwards

From the next edition onwards, a wider group of participants from sport will be welcome, says Van der Roest. That will involve a broader group of people and social organisations involved in social value creation such as the Johan Cruyff Foundation or the Fonds Gehandicaptensport (Fund for the physically challenged in sport), and we could also organise editions for sports associations and municipal officials. Always focusing on social value creation, such as social programmes aimed at health, exercise or social cohesion in the neighbourhoods where clubs are located. For example, they can play a role in reducing deprivation and creating connections between people.

Social programmes can, for example, play a role in reducing deprivation and creating connection between people

Jan-Willem van der Roest

Skills and reflection

What does the programme entail? Jan-Willem van der Roest explains: The training programme consists of eight days, with group assignments, reflection and intervision, in which we will teach the participants skills, among other things. Recognising your role in the football club, for example. Clubs are of course mainly focused on sportive and business objectives; it is professional football, after all. If you come up with a social programme, it sometimes meets resistance in the organisation, so we will specifically address that. In addition, we highlight various organisational themes, including organisational change. But we also pay attention to storytelling, for instance; how do you tell that social story well to the outside world, such as the municipalities, and also to the inner world of the club itself.

We chose this relatively short, concentrated format for the programme because football is always on. The clubs have a home game every fortnight in which the participants often co-host. There are always deadlines and sometimes there are European matches or cup football. We try to take into account the trainees' busy jobs.

Collaboration with Eredivisie CV

The Leadership in Sport programme (Leiderschap in Sport – a Dutch spoken programme) was developed for CSR managers of Eredivisie and Keuken Kampioen Divisie football clubs. The implementation of this Education for Professionals programme is in the hands of the Utrecht University School of Governance (USG), in collaboration with Eredivisie CV.


Would you like to know more? Please contact one of the programme coordinators, Jan Willem van der Roest (j.vanderroest@uu.nl) or Aukje Geubbels (aukje.geubbels@eredivisie.nl). Or read more about the programme on the Education for Professionals website.

Go to the website of Leadership in Sport (mainly in Dutch)
Read the Eredivisie CV news release (in Dutch)