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League Director Of Denmark’s Women’s Football, Nicolai Kaas Nordstrøm, Continues To Push For Women In Sport

League Director Of Denmark’s Women’s Football, Nicolai Kaas Nordstrøm, Continues To Push For Women In Sport

Nicolai Kaas Nordstrom, League Director of the National Women’s Football League in Denmark, has many different roles within the League. With that being said, his main focus is on creating awareness of the women’s football (soccer) league in Denmark. In order to do so, he has closely monitored other successful leagues in areas like North America and Spain where women’s soccer is deemed as a success! I had the opportunity to interview Nicolai and learn more about what it takes to build a community around a women’s league in Denmark, where it has not always been so popular. Through his work, and the UEFA mantra, “inspire the girls to dream”, Nicolai works every day to ensure that females have the opportunity to play in Denmark! Join me as he speaks more about his goals and objectives, and how he intends to reach them. Enjoy!

Please note: The interview with Nicolai Kaas Nordstrøm was conducted via a typed conversation in Danish. Editing changes were made to make it easier to read in English while maintaining the voice of the interview. We’ve also given you a version of Nicolai Kaas Nordstrøm’s answers in Danish. As English is our native language, please be advised there may be some honest errors when/if you read it in Danish.

Tell us about your role as the League Director with the National Women’s League in Denmark.

My role is being in charge of building the structure as well as the development of the national Danish women’s league. At the moment we are focusing on the organization/administration part that has to be rebuilt. Optimizing all the potential commercial opportunities like sponsors and media deals. We have to create an even bigger knowledge about the women’s league in Denmark which is our top priority at the moment. Our primary goals are to make the Danish Women’s football league (or Soccer as some might would call it) into a top-6 league in Europe.

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What does your day-to-day look like?

I’m in close dialogue with the chair board members in the different organizations that work around women’s football (or soccer) and the women’s league. From the beginning I’ve had the following personal mission in mind:

How can I improve the awareness to the league and make our audience, the media and the business community attached to our brand.

All our work are we doing to create a stronger league where it also is attractive for both the clubs as well as the players. Our mission which is created in strong cooperation with the clubs and UEFA is:

“Inspire the girls to dream.”

On the more practical level, I speak daily with our employees that are in charge of our social media management on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, podcast and our main website. Partly because I’m working a lot with the concept of Social Selling.

Tell us about your journey to reaching your current position. What were your greatest obstacles and how did you overcome them?

I always have it as my goal that I will only work on what I think is fun and exciting. I’ve always wanted to be part of something that makes a difference and leads to results. As a commercial manager in various sports industries, such as handball, horse racing, and of course football, I’ve been able to do that.

At the same time, I have always been very focused on expanding my network which have created many opportunities in my career. My approach to developing the workplaces I have been at is based on knowledge, common sense, experience, and network. This can be a challenge in the sports industry, as many make decisions with the heart and passion while not with knowledge and experience.

Managing a sport league almost always comes with challenges given the unpredictable nature of sport. Talk about how you overcome these challenges and have learned not to be hard on yourself for stuff that is probably beyond your control.

The most important task while being in my position is to keep on track with the strategy and keep going after the goals that have been set out from the beginning. For example, working with volunteers: listen to them, let them be integrated in the process, and most importantly give them faith in the strategy and our own values.  

What is the biggest difference between working with the national women’s league and working with the national men’s league?

In the women’s league, we work mainly with development and are in a position where we have to build up a league. That puts us in a different position than the men’s league overall. When we are working on making the clubs more professional, are the players still playing with the heart and not because they are over/well paid which is also a big factor that differs from the male players.

Are you taking inspiration from other leagues around the world like in North America for example? And, is there something you think other leagues could learn from your league or other European leagues?

I’m taking a lot of inspiration from the female soccer leagues in North America. Not only because I have family there and have been there many times. The USA women’s football is doing very well and we can definitely learn something from how they are doing things and especially the respect the USA has for women’s football. I’m also looking at other European leagues like for example women’s La Liga in Spain. An organization where I also have a really good relationship with the CEO of the league Pedro Malabia. He was in Denmark when we launched the new Gjensidige Women’s league here in 2019 (Gjensidige Kvindeligaen is the name of the Danish Women’s Football League)

What is the overall plan and what are the most important goals that lie ahead for the Danish women’s league?

We are working under the mission:

Inspire the girls to dream.

And our goal is to become a league with professional standards as well as being a league that is attractive for players, clubs, spectators and businesses.

What are three essential skills someone needs to succeed in the sports industry?

1 Professional Sponsorship Management

It is important to act with the brain and not with the heart. It is important to work out of what is needed for your partners/clients. Don’t do what you think they want to have but listen to them for what they wish for with their sponsorship deal.

2 Listen To Your People

In the club where your employees and hundreds of volunteers are working, listen to them and show them that you willing to go the extra mile for them to make everything happen. If you can show them that then they will also be willing to help you which is probably the most important thing to create success.

3 Media Relations

Having a good relationship with the press is very important for having a positive image in the public eye. The sports industry gets a lot of publicity by the press because most of the country’s population has a keen interest in it.

What advice would you give to recently graduated sport management students looking for their next opportunity and to find themselves in a similar position to the one you’re in?

Go out, get some experience, seek out the clubs or organizations. Use LinkedIn to tell everybody about yourself, your thoughts, your ideas and your results. Personally, I would advise you to use social selling of yourself.

Mad’s Final Thoughts

As a closing thought, I’m very happy to see people like Nicolai taking the initiative to make women’s sport a priority. Not only do women add value to the world of sport, but as Nicolai says, “they also add ‘heart’.” Many of the women playing in professional leagues in Denmark don’t get paid the same amount as the men do, and their drive to play comes purely from the passion that they have of the sport. I would like to thank Nicolai for doing the important job that he is doing, and I will continue to support and follow him through his progress. I wish him nothing but success and I know that the women’s soccer league will be thriving in Denmark soon!

Nicolai Kaas Nordstrøm

Interview by Mads Schoening
Posted February 13, 2020 in Industry Profiles

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