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Women’s Month: Cyndi Mendoza

I am the Development Manager at I AM WATER Ocean Conservation Organisation. I am passionate about social justice and empowering local communities around the world. At I AM WATER, I am building organisational development, managing stakeholder relationships as well as the Monitoring, Evaluation, Learning and Reporting of our programs. 

Paying it forward to other young women and girls.  We’ve all had moments in our lives where other people provided opportunities for us to flourish. It was these opportunities that have allowed me to get where I am today and I would like to create more of those opportunities for other young people to reach their full potential.

One of my role models is Michelle Obama. She is authentic, fierce, fragile, compassionate and a go-getter. She is not afraid to make mistakes, showcase her femininity or vulnerability and uses her knowledge and wisdom to lead projects that she is passionate about. Throughout her career, she has demonstrated time and time again that you can be it all. An ambitious career woman, a “mother-in-chief”, a wife, friend and mentor to other young women with potential. 

When women’s sport is accessible, the community tunes in. The last Women’s World Cup was a great example of this. It was readily available on regular television and accessible, so people watched it. We need to provide more platforms where women and men are given the opportunity to watch women’s sport without paying for it. Without the barrier to access these games, fans will consume content and therefore drive visibility of women’s sport.

A recent report carried out by The Fan Project called How Women’s Sport Will Lead The Sports Industry into the Future that looked at more than 10 million data points echoed “that women are given a platform, and when there is proper investment, we deliver the stories, the global audiences and the drama”. 

Male athletes can help drive visibility by encouraging their followers to watch women’s sport and by doing so themselves. Levelling the Playing Field helps all of us and not just women. Male athletes that later go to work in the sports broadcasting sector can make decisions to make women’s sports accessible and be enthusiastic about commenting and reporting on women’s sport. 

The piece of advice that has had the greatest impact in my life came from my principal my last year of high-school. Dr. John Garcia was my mentor and life coach during that time and played a significant role in me excelling in school and achieving my goal to attend a University in New York City. He said, “Wherever you go, just know that you belong there just as much as anyone else in the room”.  

Growing-up in a single parent home with less resources than those around me, I often found myself feeling guilty for being offered opportunities that my family could not relate to. These spaces and opportunities were completely foreign to my upbringing but close to the life that I envisioned for myself, which caused internal conflict at times. This advice reassured me and has taken me all over the world. It empowered me to not only feel like I was deserving of the best opportunities afforded to me because of my perseverance, but it also gave me the ability to genuinely connect with people from different cultures, religions, ideologies and socio-economic status. Over the years it has given me the confidence to seek opportunities, interact with diverse people and ignited a curiosity to understand, influence and be the voice for the voiceless. It continues to feed my curiosity to explore and keep pushing boundaries and challenging the status quo.  I am forever thankful that my high-school principal believed that I was destined for greatness. 

Sport is a big industry and encompasses so many different sectors in order to make it possible.You don’t need to limit yourself to do traditional sport jobs to play your role in sport or remain in the sector. If you are good at accounting or marketing, study accounting or marketing and use those skills within the sport sector. I did not have a straightforward career trajectory, but that is totally fine and has given me transferable skills that I can use in the sports sector. I come from an undergraduate business and have specialised in program evaluation to improve sport for development programs globally. 

You don’t need to have it all figured out. Live in the present, be intentional about what you do and things will fall into place the way they need to. 

As a Sport for Development enthusiast, my objective is to spread the power sport by building evidence in order to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and changing one life at a time. On a macro level,  I will use my knowledge to improve, create and  lead quality sport for development programmes globally. I also aim to use this knowledge and experience to bridge the gap between evidence and practice at the grassroots implementation level. On a micro level, I will  leave a little sparkle in my interactions with participants and staff on the ground.


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