Having already advanced to the elite qualifying round of the 2019 Euros, England under-17s recently hosted an international friendly tournament to get some much needed minutes under their belts. Visiting England to take part in the tournament were Brazil, Russia and the USA in games in Shrewsbury and Telford. UCFB student Georgina Slawinski, who studies BA (Hons) Sports Business & Coaching, was there working for The Football Association as a Team Liaison Officer for Russia. Here, she tells us about the experience…

When I saw this position advertised, it straight away caught my attention as an amazing opportunity and a role which I imagined myself in. This is due to me being a strong communicator who can build good working relationships with a wide range of people, from my experience as a regional netball player, vice president, care practitioner and from being a sports coach. From the feedback I received, it showed that this experience stood out in the application process and contributed to me being given the opportunity of representing The Football Association.

Georgina waiting for the Russian team at Heathrow Airport

As a Team Liaison Officer, my duty was to act as the point of contact for my assigned team, which was the Russia under-17s. My responsibilities began as I met the team at Heathrow Airport. After setting off from Wembley, I tracked the team’s plane to ensure I was at the correct terminal to welcome them to England and to keep the coach driver up to date for when they were scheduled to arrive and ready to head to Shropshire. Once the players had landed and collected their luggage, I formally introduced myself and told them I was to accompany the them during their time in England.

Throughout the tournament, I had to attend meetings, training sessions and matches whilst liaising with a range of staff from the hotel, the team, match day staff and The FA to co-ordinate any change requests the team had, as well as be a consistent point of contact and support for the team and a direct link between the team and The FA.

Russia took on Brazil during the mini-tournament.

Being a TLO meant working long hours. I wanted to represent The FA to the best of my ability and to ensure the Russian team had a memorable stay and tournament, striving to provide a high standard of service to the team, building strong relationships and achieving customer excellence. This was not always an easy task due to the language barrier, but through working closely with the translator I was able to carry out their requests.

Each day, I made sure I was up early to communicate with the team, hotel staff and the coach drivers to ensure that the team adhered to their daily schedules promptly, including meal times, training, matches and other activities. A lot of this required being a good problem-solver and someone who can use their own initiative in a fast-paced environment. I found that organising two meetings each day ensured the team could talk to me about what they needed so I could carry out the appropriate changes to the team’s schedule when needed. Always being on call and being visible to the team daily helped me to gain trust and respect from them which created a positive environment to work in, whilst supporting the team with logistics as required.

Georgina received a signed shirt from the Russian team following the tournament.

It was a huge honour to represent The FA and work with the Russian team. This opportunity allowed me to network with members of The FA and with members of teams from USA, Brazil and England, as well as gaining an understanding of different languages and cultures. I gained so many valuable skills throughout this placement that will stay with me throughout my career, from a coaching and planning perspective to form a successful high-performance environment and tournament, right through to addressing the preparation needed to ensure an athlete/team is competitively prepared for competition at the highest level. Also from a management angle, the contribution towards the successful running of an international tournament is valuable alongside my studies from both a business and coaching perspective. I am hugely grateful for this opportunity, as I’ve gained a wealth of memories and stories to relay to my friends, colleagues and family and to motivate me further as I come close to graduation and beginning my journey in becoming a premier sports businesswoman.