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Sport matters

28 January 2019

Woman discussing image displayed on whiteboard
Professor McAllister traces the origins of female football in Wales

The first Cardiff Business School Breakfast Briefing of 2019 got underway in contradictory manner as Professor Laura McAllister announced: “sport is important because it isn’t important!”

And so began a masterclass in the intricacies of sport and governance from the Wales Governance Centre’s expert in Public Policy.

A former Wales football international and national team captain with 24 caps, Professor McAllister told a packed out briefing that sport has a unique place in our national psyche, our collective consciousness, especially in a small nation like Wales, and therein lies its considerable reach.

A different and untapped power

Drawing on her experiences as Chair of Sport Wales, Board membership of UK Sport and as Director of the Football Association of Wales Trust, Professor McAllister argued that, for a nation such as Wales, sport has a different and untapped power.

“It’s often said we lack a seductive global USP. Well sport could fill that gap. And after Brexit, if it happens, then we’ll certainly need it to show that we are a nation that punches above its weight on things like trade and policy...”

Laura McAllister

“Sport’s so important to Wales, it’s a unifying force at a time when we’re an increasingly divided nation - on the EU and Brexit, in economic prospects, in educational opportunities and in life chances.”

Professor Laura McAllister, Professor of Public Policy

In step with society

Professor McAllister shared lessons from her experiences in leadership roles across Welsh sport, covering passion, shelf-life, foresight and the need for sport to march in step with society.

For this to happen, sport needs to be taken seriously she argued, it needs to be diverse, leadership needs to be effective and only then will it play its crucial part in responding to some of the intractable challenges of our time: mental health, childhood obesity and equality and diversity.

Man speaks to audience
Dr Clive Grace opens briefing to attendees for questions

Following Professor McAllister’s presentation, Dr Clive Grace, who chaired the event, invited questions from the audience, which saw the former Wales international share her opinion on topics, including: sport board membership, sport in schools, elite and amateur sport, facilities, mental health and duty of care.

The Executive Education Breakfast Briefing series is a network that enables business contacts to find out more about the latest research and key developments from industrial partners.

If you were unable to attend, catch up with this live stream of the event.

The next briefing, entitled The Magnificent Seven, is on Tuesday 19 February 2019 and will see Darrell Mann consider what the age of artificial intelligence means for the financial services industry.

To secure a place, register now.

Undertaking innovative research into all aspects of the law, politics, government and political economy of Wales, as well the wider UK and European contexts of territorial governance.