Barbara Blanco Rodríguez, a former student of the UCA/FIFA/CIES Programme in Sports Law and Management in Argentina, has been immersed in football for several years. She reveals here some aspects of her work and underlines the importance of training for young athletes and officials of sports organisations.
What is your professional training and your links with football?
I am a lawyer by profession, and I have been active in football for several years as General Secretary of the Racing Club (NB: one of the great historical clubs of Argentinean football founded in 1903) and a member of its Executive Committee. More specifically, according to the club's organisation chart, I am in charge of the International Relations Department as well as the Gender Equality and Human Rights Department.
In addition, I am the General Secretary of the Women's Football Unit of the Asociación de Fútbol Argentino (Argentinean Football Association, AFA) and a member of the International Affairs Committee of the Liga Profesional de Fútbol (Professional Football League).
What does your job involve?
The function of General Secretary within the football clubs in Argentina - all of which are non-profit civil associations - is of paramount importance in institutional life. Among my main tasks is the drafting of numerous texts, such as minutes, internal notes, press releases and other necessary documents. I have to approve the use of the President's signature on official documents. I am also responsible for representing the President or the Vice-Presidents when they are absent. In addition, I am in charge of convening the Executive Committee or updating the register of associates.
Why did you participate in the UCA/FIFA/CIES Programme?
I decided to follow this Programme when I started to work actively for my club, especially when I was the Chair of the International Relations Department. Indeed, it seemed important to me to follow a training course in order to orientate myself towards the modern management of sport and football. My aim was to be able to use new working tools in my job.
Has this Programme been useful for your professional life?
Absolutely. On the one hand, I had the opportunity to get in touch with many people who share the same interests as I do and, beyond the course, to make new friends. On the other hand, this Programme has allowed me to sharpen my knowledge of the themes and even the issues that make up the daily environment of a football club. This experience has given me the opportunity to grow and perfect my skills in the increasingly complex world of sports management.
What are the main challenges facing football, and by extension sport in Argentina?
Our country is characterised by a very rich history of football - and other sports. In particular, Argentina has distinguished itself as an exporter of great talents. One of the major challenges we face is to be able to continue training our young sportsmen and women in a comprehensive way, in a process that intelligently combines education and sport. This is a prerequisite for continuing to foster the emergence and development of great talents.
To achieve this, we need to professionalise not only the athletes but also the sports organisations, based on modern management models.
So education is an instrument to better meet these challenges?
It plays a key role. Indeed, the complexity of the functions and activities we have to carry out requires sports organisations to be able to rely on properly trained professionals. We must be able to plan complex medium, and long-term strategies. We also need to be able to divide up, to distribute the tasks of each person within an organisational chart in an appropriate manner. Transparent decision-making processes must also be put in place. In short, it is no longer possible to manage a club or federation based on goodwill alone. It is essential to have the means to act effectively, thanks to adequate training.
A desire for the future of Argentinean sport?
That sport continues to be seen as a key value in the educational, social and cultural fields and that this role is further strengthened. It is essential that access to sport is guaranteed for the children and youth of our country.
How do you see yourself in 20 years' time?
I am not a prophet... but I can see myself continuing to work for my club and my federation. To play a leading role in each of them.