The University of Hertfordshire staged a pilot programme for women coaches in 2019 before the pandemic ©World Triathlon

Women coaches from 22 countries are taking part in the launch of a million-dollar coaching scheme designed to support them in reaching the highest level of their sport.

Olympic Solidarity, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) agency which gives assistance to National Olympic Committees (NOCs), has offered its backing to the Women in Sport High Performance Pathway.

This has been developed in conjunction with the University of Hertfordshire in Britain, where a pilot programme was conducted in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Our programme has been specifically designed to support women to step up and develop their coaching and leadership skills at an international level," Hertfordshire University head of sport, health and exercise, professor Elizabeth Pike, explained.

"As Olympic sports are part of complex multi organisational domains and challenging environments, high performance coaches of Olympic sports have a broader role to play in their sports than just coaching,"

Pike insisted the courses would also enable coaches to develop "negotiation and influencing skills to be able to be advocates for their athletes."

Olympic Solidarity has set aside $1million (£800,00/€930,000) to support the programme which forms part of its commitment "to the acceleration of women's representation in sports leadership roles."

The programme is being staged in support of the IOC’s gender equality and inclusion objectives and is expected to benefit some 100 coaches over the next four years.

They will be divided into four cohorts to participate in the scheme.

Each programme lasts for 21 months and will give participants leadership guidance, sports-specific training and mentoring led by the respective International Federation (IF), and contact with NOCs.

The first cohort includes coaches from seven sports; bobsleigh-skeleton, cycling, judo, rugby union, skiing ,volleyball and wrestling.

Their programme began with online modules at the start of this week.

Participants are scheduled to attend a residential course lasting week at the university this August.

Future participants will be encouraged to apply through their IFs but also require the support of their respective NOC to be accepted for the programme.