September 08, 2023

Women leadership under the spotlight at the Thinking Football Summit

Helena Pires, Alexandrina Cruz and Sofia Teles have brighten up on The Academy


Women are increasingly present in leadership positions in football, and in Portuguese football in particular. As such, the experiences of Helena Pires (Coordinating Executive Director of Liga Portugal), Alexandrina Cruz (President of Rio Ave FC) and Sofia Teles (Director of Competitions at Porto Football Club) came to the stage  in a panel discussion moderated by Raquel Moura Tavares (Senior Associate at PRA).

Helena Pires opened the debate by telling us a little about her professional career and the importance of meritocracy throughout her career. "In 23 years in Liga Portugal, I've never felt any kind of differentiation for being a woman. I've grown in the organisation and if I've got where I am, it's because of merit and competence," she said in her first speech at the Academy.

"Maybe because I'm a woman we have to be more committed, but if there is competence and professionalism, doors open naturally. We've already had an all-female board and Liga Portugal is a good example," she said.

Sofia Teles, on the other hand, highlighted the growth of women's football and the fact that she had no hesitation in taking up positions related to the beautiful game. "Football has always been a passion of mine, but there were no female role models to guide me. When the opportunity arose to become a manager, I decided to take it. What's more, I feel that women's football is changing, that it is becoming more visible with women in management positions, which is helping it to develop. Of course, there are always difficulties and we can see the world differently, but it's all the same," explained AF Porto's director of competitions.

Alexandrina Cruz, for her part, has made history by becoming the first female president of a Liga Portugal Betclic club, a feat that doesn't intimidate her, and she is optimistic about Rio Ave FC's future at the top level of Portuguese football.

"I felt absolutely nothing different. I started my career at Rio Ave FC 19 years ago in the finance department and now, as president, it's a different experience because there's a long way to go in different areas of the club. From my own experience, I don't see any difference between a man or a woman in the presidency, we may just have different perspectives on certain issues or what is the best way forward for the best interests of the club," he stressed.