UW Center for Leadership in Athletics

May 2, 2023

Nadica Jovanovik Interview

Nadica Jovanovik, an emerging coach developer from North Macedonia, discusses her background and her four-week fellowship at the Center for Leadership in Athletics. Nadica is here through the Young Transatlantic Innovation Leaders Initiative, a fellowship program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. Nadica answers a few questions from Jake Silver, Marketing Specialist for the Center for Leadership in Athletics. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Q: Can you tell us about the program that brought you here to the University of Washington?

A: I am here through the Young Transatlantic Innovation Leaders Initiative – YTILI. The YTILI Fellows Program is sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State and is a two-way exchange program designed to strengthen the transatlantic relationship, develop sustainable partnerships between U.S. and European entrepreneurs and innovators, promote regional integration and cooperation in Europe, and encourage European businesses, governments, and civil society to develop their innovation ecosystems. The program includes a five-month virtual entrepreneurship curriculum and a four-week fellowship experience with a U.S. company. This year I am one of the 60 fellows coming to the U.S. from Europe and my placement is at the University of Washington, more specifically the Center for Leadership in Athletics in Seattle. My mentor during these four weeks and for the following months is Dr. Jennifer Hoffman.

Q: Can you share a little bit about your background and your connection to athletics?

A: I would start by saying that I have been in sports since I was 9 years old. I competed in track and field, and I was on the Macedonian National Team for six years.  Once my professional sports career ended, I continued doing sports for fitness like half-marathon running. At that time, I started working in the non-governmental sport sector back in Skopje. The NGO was doing workshops and projects on how to get more girls active, how to empower girls and women through sport, and how to tach gender equality in sports to the bigger population. After two years of being a part of the organization, I was introduced to the Sport for Development methodology during a workshop organized by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit(GIZ). I was lucky enough to work on their Sport for Development (S4D) projects that they had in the Western Balkan Region. I liked the idea of S4D a lot and I started going to a lot of training sessions on the topic across Europe. During my education in that area, I was also delivering and practicing S4D on the field. First, I started doing workshops with adolescents and young people, after some time I started educating other coaches on how to implement this methodology with their target group. Now, I am an instructor of instructors; meaning I teach other instructors how to work with other coaches who work with young people afterwards. Also, I am a S4D Consultant working for different organizations in this area. I have worked as a S4D Consultant for many different topics such as: Gender Equality, Sustainability, Quality Education, Employability, and Peace Building. All of these topics are related to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. I have implemented many pieces of training, summer camps, workshops, and seminars. Last year, I was also the facilitator of the “International Experts Training” which is one of the biggest Sport for Development trainings organized by GIZ, DOSB, and BMZ. This training brought international sport for development specialists all together in one place. In addition to implementing this kind of training and working with this methodology in the Western Balkan, as of last year I extended my expertise in Africa as well.


Nadica (furthest left) and the other YTILI Seattle fellows on top of the Space Needle.

Q: Can you explain in more detail what sport for development is?

A: There are many definitions and many explanations on what Sport for Development is, but I will mention the one that I use the most which is: Sport for Development and Peace refers to the intentional use of sport, physical activity and play to attain specific development and peace objectives, including, most notably, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As the definition says itself, I use sport as a tool to tackle some specific goals. For example, if the goal is Employability, I create programs and activities that are focused on soft skills that young people need to develop professionally. The soft skills that I work on such as communication, teamwork, decision-making, and problem-solving are skills that are very relevant for the workspace, but they are not taught in formal educational settings. Of course, the goals that I am tackling and the programs are always different depending on what the organization wants to implement in the training and depending on the target group with whom they will later on work.

Q: What are your biggest goals while you are here in the U.S.?

A: I have a couple of goals that I want to achieve while I am here in the US. First, I would like to get to know how the sports system functions here. To get to know what is the educational or proportional process that coaches go through in order to work in athletics. Second, is to get to know the school sport system. How it is developed and how it is maintained. Third, is to meet with people who are working on sport for development or coaching development programs.  And last but not least, to meet with people from corporations who work on social impact projects.

Q: What are your next steps after you finish the YTILI program?

A: My biggest goal after I finish the YTILI program is mainly to stay in contact with the connections I make here in the U.S. To exchange ideas and create opportunities for working together, but also to see whether I can scale my freelance sport for development consultancy to a more official body like opening my own consultancy agency. I have met many amazing entrepreneurs here in my placement hub (University of Washington, Seattle) but also from all around Europe who have inspired me with so many ideas.

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Nadica and Dr. Jennifer Hoffman at the Center for Leadership in Athletics.


Nadica and the other YTILI Seattle fellows visit the University of Washington cherry blossoms.