Participants in the programme have been dubbed the Game Changers ©National Olympic Committee of Finland

A total of 30 participants from 26 countries in Europe have been selected to take part in the New Leaders Programme aimed at helping to shape the future of sport.

The programme is a legacy project of Birgitta Kervinen, winner of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Women and Sport World Trophy in 2017.

The educational programme is a joint effort coordinated by the National Olympic Committee of Finland together with their counterparts in Lithuania, Ireland, Azerbaijan.

Efforts are also coordinated with the IOC and the European Olympic Committees.

The year long initiative will cover topics of strategic leadership, communications, public speaking, lobbying and conflict management, with a focus on equality, sustainability, human rights and ethics.

It is claimed the participants will design concrete action plans on a personal and organisational level, which will help organisations implement the IOC’s gender equality recommendations.

While aiming to empower the participants, the programme will also offer them support from an experienced mentor.

Daina Gudzinevičiūtė, the newly awarded IOC Women and Sport winner for Europe, expressed her desire to pass on her experience.

Gudzinevičiūtė, the Lithuanian Olympic Committee President, currently serves on the EOC Executive Board and was elected as an IOC member last month in Buenos Aires.

"I am sure that the New Leaders Programme will help the participants to acquire knowledge, develop skills and enhance self-confidence," she said.

"I am very happy to join this project and as a mentor I will support participants and share my experience."

Lithuania's Daina Gudzinevičiūtė will serve as one of the mentors in the programme ©Getty Images
Lithuania's Daina Gudzinevičiūtė will serve as one of the mentors in the programme ©Getty Images

A total of 50 professionals applied to be part of the programme, with 30 ultimately being selected.

They include 19 women and 11 men, with the EOC Gender Equality Commission having accepted the participants.

It was claimed that motivation to enhance personal leadership skills and enthusiasm to have a wider impact to sport movement were at the heart of the applications.

The participants include the Czech Republic’s Zoran Bartek, Portugal’s Pedro Dias, Spain’s Galia Dvorak, Italy’s Daniele Facchinetti, Hungary’s Anett Fodor, Petra Gantnerova of Slovakia and Iva Glibo from Croatia.

Israel’s Yarden Har Lev, Vegard Henriksen from Norway, Russia’s Natalia Ivanyuk, Luxembourg’s Pierre Kass, Denmark’s Mikkel Kidmose Risager, Croatia’s Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic and Liechtenstein’s Anunciata Liechtenstein will also take part.

Ireland’s Conor Meany and Grainne Murphy will be joined on the programme by Macedonia’s Silvija Mitevska, Ukraine’s Dmytro Mytsak, France’s Floriane Poncet, Austria’s Ivana Pranjić, Azerbaijan’s Narmin Shakhaliyeva and Britain’s Marianna Sikorowska.

The list of participants is completed by Finland’s Aino-Kaisa Saarinen and Katri Mattsson, Estonia’s Laura Maria Tiidla and Maris Lindmäe, the Netherlands’ Marieke van der Plas, Stephanie Wheeler from Cyprus and the Lithuanian duo Laurynas Zibolis and Vilius Srėbalius.