Eva Havaris in the second part of the interview continues to talk about leadership. She also talks about CPL and the chances of possibly having a professional woman’s soccer team in Canada. In particular, Eva Havaris talks fondly of working in the Canadian Premier League (CPL). Eva Havaris is currently the Executive Vice President and Chief of Staff of York United FC.
York United FC’s Eva Havaris on the Canadian Premier League and Leadership Part Two
In this part of the interview, Eva Havaris continues to talk about the importance of leadership. She also talks about her time in the Canadian Premier League and the chances for a local professional women’s team and/or professional league in the near future.
How have the high-level leadership positions shaped you to be the person that you are now?
They humbled me. You know, I realized over that time, being an executive, that we were all at a starting point in our careers at some point, and that we all aspired to be great at being at the top of an organization. It was a great feeling to lead others and to see the day-to-day humanity that exists in the workplace. It has humbled me to really put people first and to prioritize their well-being first and foremost and to build a great culture, first and foremost to achieve those results (e.g., business results), that we all as leaders aspire to achieve. So, I think if anything that has been the greatest learning over the last 15 years, it is just humbling.
What is the mindset one wants to change for women in sport, striving to be leaders?
I think it is just about recognizing that; you know, sport is for everyone. My earliest experiences in sports gave me the confidence and self-belief to succeed in soccer. I was fortunate to get the opportunities and was not held back and did not have to fight for them. The skills and the passion that I had for sports helped me to be successful. I passionately believe that off-the-field experience and working in sport should be no different, as that is the essence of the sport.
It is about bringing people and communities together, giving kids, athletes, coaches, officials, and administrators an opportunity to express their passion for sport and to really live to their full potential. For me, the business side of the sport and being off the field should be no different. It should be an opportunity given to everybody, male or female, people of colour, it does not matter. It is something that needs to be more diverse and more inclusive in that regard. And that is one aspect of the sport and the sports industry that needs to progress.
So, what is the key to a happier and healthier workplace?
People first, their well-being first. You know, as leaders, it is our job to make sure that they are positioned for success, that they are in the right roles, that they are focused on the right things, that they have the resources they need to succeed, and being there for them when things do not go well, and figuring out how we can support them, support our employees, and our people. And just remembering that people do not wake up wanting to do a bad job each day. So, if that is happening, where results are not being achieved, there is a lag in culture. It usually starts at the top number one and number two. If you start from a very human place of caring about your people to me, that is how you can turn around the workplace and build for success.
The Canada Soccer President Nick Bontis last year stated that he wants to have an NWSL team in Canada within the next four years. Do you think there is a distinct possibility of that happening?
I think that the professionalization of women’s soccer is coming. Yes. I think that absolutely the climate and the environment and the participation base and the desire for it is there within the community. And so, I have no doubt that that is coming. No doubt, whether it is the NWSL, whether it is something else, whether it is both a made-in Canada solution and NWSL franchise. I think any of those things are exciting for the future women’s soccer in this country.
Do you think York United FC could be home to a professional woman soccer team one day?
I hope so. Yes, I definitely hope so.
What was it like, when you were the vice president, strategy, and league operations of the Canadian Premier League?
It was fantastic and enjoyable. I came from equestrian and then over back into soccer, and I felt like coming home because I had grown up with soccer. It has been a part of my life since I was four years old. I had the opportunity to work on the business side in a sport that I care deeply about, and that I know firsthand. I mean, I have been an athlete, a coach, a volunteer. I think the only role I did not serve in was the referee. It is an honour to have that opportunity, to build a professional league in this country from the ground up and to work with the coaches and athletes and literally be there for them on the ground to create a better experience for them.
What is it like to be involved in York United FC rebranding from York9 FC?
I had joined just at the tail end of that launch, so I was not around for that part of it. But certainly, I am here now and yeah, it is a business decision. We will see how it goes. It is just starting to roll out now. So, we will see.