Team Liaison Officers: a key role behind the scenes

Elisabeth will also bring her own knowhow, having worked as TLO for Mexico during this summer’s U-20 Women’s World Cup in Brittany. Returning for more at the Women’s World Cup 2019 felt like a natural progression. “Brittany was a great experience, on both a sporting and human level,” she says. “I was able to integrate very quickly with the Mexican delegation and, above all, I got very good support from the LOC. I never once felt alone. Taking on that role at the U-20 Women’s World Cup also allowed me to understand certain needs. For example, I now know that food is an important aspect in the day-to-day lives of the players. FIFA proposes set menus, but the players also want different specialities from their home country. I spent hours redoing some of the menus, but it was worth it and our tortilla night was a big success.”

Mastering the language: a crucial asset

Organisational savvy and interpersonal skills are not the only requirements of the job, however. Each TLO must have a perfect command of French, English and, most crucially, the language of the team with which they will be working. Knowledge of national customs is a plus, but understanding the language helps to establish a bond of trust and represents a vital asset for the TLOs, who will be working closely with the players and their staff. “What really surprised the LOC during my interview was the fact that I speak Spanish but with an Argentinian dialect,” says Blanche. “Thanks to my university exchange programme in Buenos Aires, I got to learn the language the way it’s spoken over there and all the local expressions. As a result, I also know a lot about the Argentinian way of life, their approach to things and their direct way of speaking. So it’s true, I imagine that’ll be a real bonus in terms of interacting with the players day to day.”

Having arrived in Paris on 6 December, the Team Liaison Officers will finally get to meet the 24 national delegations at the Draw. The 25th TLO, meanwhile, has a very specific mission: to fill in should one of their colleagues become unavailable. All of them are raring to get started. “It still hasn’t hit home that I’ll be joining up with the Argentina team,” says Blanche. “But I can’t wait for next summer and for the World Cup to kick off. I love sports competitions, whatever the discipline, and the emotions they provoke. I’m more of a rugby fan, but since I got this job, I’ve been watching more and more football matches. This Women’s World Cup is going to be a superb event.”

After the Draw, the TLOs will accompany their teams to the stadiums where they are set to play their opening games. The LOC will then organise several training days, so that each TLO is ready for action right from the start. For the whole group, that moment cannot come soon enough.

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