Development & Alumni Relations Office 


14 March 2019

Third year undergraduate English with Creative Writing student Sarah Leonard, who comes from Manchester, has this week been enjoying a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Barcelona’s legendary Camp Nou stadium, as part of Santander UK’s initiative to support female talent in both their sporting and professional lives.

As part of Santander’s sponsorship of the UEFA Champions League, Santander Universities has organised an outward mobility trip for female footballer players at each of their partner universities.

One of a select group of leading footballers from women’s football clubs at UK universities, Sarah joined over 90 others on the 3-day programme of events, tours and training. Organised by Santander Universities, the programme is designed to help build critical thinking and management skills for female talent, both through sporting and wider leadership activity. 

Sarah is a committee member of Queen's Ladies Soccer Club, a fledgling society which she says is still 'finding its feet'. The Club participates in charity tournaments, as well as five-a-side and more competitive matches with various universities and other ladies' clubs throughout Ireland.

Activities kicked off with a panel event on women’s leadership, with contributions from Maria Teixidor, Board Director and Company Secretary of Barcelona FC; Laura Ràfols, FC Barcelona; Matias Rodriguez Inciarte, Vice-Chairman Banco Santander and President of Santander Universities; and Susan Allen, Head of Retail and Business Banking, Santander UK, with the session moderated by Manroop Khela, Head of Transformation & CEO’s Office, Santander UK.

Sarah also took part in a training session with Albert ‘Chapi’ Ferrer, professional football coach and ex-player of both FC Barcelona and Chelsea FC. In addition, and in celebration of Santander’s sponsorship of the UEFA Champions League Sarah and her fellow female footballers got to watch Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Gerard Pique and their Barcelona team mates play in the Club’s vital round sixteen tie against Olympique Lyonnais.

Speaking ahead of the trip Matt Hutnell, Director Santander Universities, said: “We are thrilled to offer this opportunity to top female football talent from across the UK to help develop their leadership skills, both within and outside a sporting context. 

“We are committed to supporting higher education and we know that those selected for this programme are equally committed to their sport, investing hours into training and are an inspiration to their peers both on and off the pitch.

“We hope the trip will motivate and support female talent with their career ambitions – whether in the world of sport, finance or beyond.” 

Emilio Botín launched Santander Universities in Spain in 1996, as an effective vehicle for business investment into its communities. Santander Universities UK launched in 2007; encompassing 84 universities and providing over £10m of funding in 2018 alone.

Speaking before catching her return flight home on Friday, Sarah said: "I have had a great time in Barcelona - it has been really amazing, especially the Barcelona game against Lyon on Wednesday night, even though I am a Manchester City fan!"

"A huge thanks to Santander Universities for their commitment to supporting higher education through initiatives such as this wonderful Women in Football event."

Queen’s University became a Santander University in May 2008 and is now part of a network of over 1,200 universities in 20 countries across the world, including Spain, Portugal, Latin America and the UK. Santander funding supports scholarships and mobility awards for students and staff, entrepreneurship activities, internship funding as well as leadership and skills development for students.

The programme focuses on education, entrepreneurship and employability giving all students the opportunity to succeed.

Santander media enquiries should be addressed to Leonora Burtenshaw, tel: +44 (0)20 7756 4543 or 07701 004 107 (m). The Santander Press Office operates from 8am to 6pm; outside these hours please call 0800 5877708.

General enquiries to Gerry Power, Communications Officer, Development and Alumni Relations Office at Queen’s University; tel: +44 (0)28 9097 5321.

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