30 June 2023

UniSA alumna Sarah Campbell is currently immersed in preparations for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023, hosted jointly by Australia and New Zealand. She credits her degree with providing good basic training, and her MBA with providing a competitive edge.

Sarah Campbell (sixth from left) with her FIFA colleagues

Sarah Campbell

Venue General Manager, FIFA Women's World Cup 2023
Bachelor of Applied Science (Recreation Planning and Management)

Football is the fastest-growing sport for women globally. Young girls are flocking to the sport, and their “soccer mums” are not only ferrying their children from match to match but also seizing the opportunity to play themselves.

The FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 will be jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand, with matches staged in cities the length and breadth of both countries and the Cup Final in Sydney on August 20.

The event, held every four years, began as a 12-team tournament in 1991 and expanded to 16 countries in the United States in 1999 and 24 participated in France in 2019. Australia and New Zealand will host 32 nations.

FIFA recently announced it is on track to become the most-attended standalone women’s sporting event ever, with more than one million tickets sold. Organisers anticipate doubling the broadcast audience of more than one billion viewers who tuned in for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019.

Sarah Campbell has worked across several sports including horseracing, cricket and football
Sarah Campbell has worked across several sports
including horseracing, cricket and football

“The FWWC puts Australia on the map as a sporting and football powerhouse. The chance for young girls to see women they can aspire to be on the world stage is also great for future-proofing our beautiful game. The very reasonable price point and the momentous nature of the occasion are also a chance to bring general sporting fans to our matches, some for the first time.” Sarah Campbell

In early 2022, UniSA alumna Sarah Campbell was appointed Venue General Manager – Adelaide for the FIFA Women's World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™. When Panama and Brazil take to the pitch at Hindmarsh Stadium on 24 July Sarah will see the benefit of her efforts over 18 months … then in August, it will all be over. Such is the nature of her industry.

In retrospect, Sarah has been training for this role for many years. As part of completing her Bachelor of Applied Science (Recreation Planning and Management), Sarah undertook a placement at the South Australian Jockey Club, leading to her employment after graduation in 2003 as Marketing Assistant. Over time, she advanced within the organisation to Sponsorship Coordinator and later Event Manager.

In 2008 the Westfield Women's League was formed, and Sarah took on the role of inaugural Operations Coordinator for the Adelaide United Football Club team. This led to her becoming Football Operations Manager for the Adelaide United FC Hyundai A-League team, taking on additional responsibilities as Event Manager for the club.

In 2015 Sarah switched sports again and joined the South Australian Cricket Association (SACA) as the Membership Events Manager, where she further developed her expertise in event management within the realm of cricket.

With experience in so many different sports, it’s no surprise that in 2017 Sarah relocated to Cairns to take on the role of Great Barrier Reef Masters Games Coordinator, gaining insights into multi-sport event coordination. In an all-encompassing role, she was responsible for liaising with the competing sporting bodies, organising social events, merchandise, marketing, staffing, signage and gaining sponsorship.

Now as Venue General Manager for FWWC, Sarah is responsible for everything that happens within the stadium apart from on the pitch, ensuring everyone has what they need to fulfil their duties and responsibilities. She is the conduit between FIFA and Hindmarsh Stadium, working alongside management and external stakeholders such SA Police and the South Australian Tourism Commission.

“Honestly, this whole role has been a great challenge for me as I am used to being more on the ‘running the event’ side of things – venue management is the other side of the fence,” says Sarah. “Finding a balance between people management and carving out time to perform my duties is something I am constantly aware of, and nurturing relationships is also a top priority, as teamwork in this industry is paramount. The biggest reward will come when I make that first ‘all call’ on the radio for the gates to be open on 24 July at 6.30pm”.

Sarah credits the practical experience gained during her university placement with determining her career path and allowing her to follow her passion. While at SACA, she decided to return to UniSA part-time and complete a Masters in Business Administration (MBA).

“Through my MBA I learned about the management of people, the art of negotiation, time management and the basics of finance, which are some examples of the skills that enabled me to secure a position such as Venue General Manager for such a high-profile association.”

“I am glad I took all the opportunities available to me as an undergraduate and did worthwhile volunteering – at the Uni Games for example. It’s often who you know that gives you that edge over rivals going for the same job, so making those professional contacts through placements and putting yourself in front of the right people at your first job is invaluable.

“Also, don't be afraid to let those in management roles know where you hope to be in a few years’ time. If people are aware of your aspirations, they will have you in mind when different positions become available.”


At a showcase of research and community in women's sport, coinciding with the FIFA Women's World Cup Trophy Tour, UniSA’s Alliance for Research in Exercise, Nutrition and Activity (ARENA) is hosting Goal-Driven Science: Enhancing Performance in Women's Football on Monday, 3 July. Tickets are $15.


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