Koulla Stavrinidou from Apollon Limassol FC
This interview features Koulla Stavrinidou who is the Marketing Manager and Head of CSR at Apollon Limassol FC. The interview is part of our Women in Football campaign, which focuses on creating visibility for women working in the football industry.
1. What do you like the most about working in football?
To begin with, I was always interested in football and I was also a fan of the club that I now work at. Apart from this, I really enjoy the environment and the industry because it is very exciting, everyday is different and there is always a challenge that must be overcome. Football is never boring and working in a football club will test your limits and skills on a daily basis, which helps you develop as a person and as a professional.
2. Was it difficult for you to make your way in football?
When I joined the club, I was the only woman working in a management position and I had to face the local fans who are predominately men but also the then club management who was not used to having women staff, therefore there was a level of discrimination towards me as they did not expect a woman to be able to succeed in this field. Going back to the fans, in my first months it was quite scary when I had to face them because they have the tendency to get violent and this was always in my head. There were many situations where I had to overcome the fact that I am a woman and assert my self in order to complete the task that was given to me.
3. Did you have any (female) role models when you were younger?
I never had a specific role model, however, I always admired women in the positions of power such as businesswomen, politicians, journalists and activists, who were overcoming the women stereotypes in society and achieve great things in their field.
4. Which advice would you give to a girl that would like to work in football?
First and foremost, I would tell her that there is indeed a place for her in the industry and that working in football is not something weird for women. Especially, in certain domains within the industry, women are now very respected and also chosen over men due to their nature and skills. Football is not only about sporting performance and there are many different departments and domains in the industry which have space for both men and women alike. In addition, I would advise her to believe in herself, be assertive and proactive in everything she does.
5. What was the biggest challenge that you faced during your career?
My first months in the club were probably the most challenging for me since we were short-staffed and I had to take care of a lot of different tasks on a daily basis. Especially, ticketing was quite the challenge because I had to face thousands of fans who could sometimes be very aggressive.
6. What are the biggest changes that you have recognised when it comes to Women in football?
During my 10 years of experience in the football industry, I have seen a dramatic change when it comes to women in football. More and more women are recruited and occupy managerial and shareholder positions. Women are now valued and appreciated for their skills and are accepted as professionals in the field. Apart from women in marketing, CRM, hospitality etc. we now see women as coaches, trainers, referees etc. In addition, more and more women are taking over C-level positions in clubs and governing bodies and overall, women’s football has also seen huge steps of growth and popularity which has also helped with the normalization of women in football.
You can find the overview with all role models here.