The 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup and Populous Planner Sabrina Tockook’s Connection
Sabrina Tockook joined Populous in 2011 and has become an integral team member – working with our clients to plan high-profile events like the NHL Winter Classic, the NCAA Men’s Final Four and the Democratic National Convention. But it’s only been recently that she’s had the opportunity to make use of her very unique background as part of her career.
As the primary contact for the planning surrounding the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada, Sabrina has been in her element – and worked with the client to share a perspective that only comes from uniquely understanding the sport, the culture and the impact of the event. Sabrina grew up playing soccer competitively, including in college on a club team while studying at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. She also is fluent in German – which just so happens to be the primary language of the key contacts at FIFA. Her parents were born in a small town called Dusseldorf, Germany and moved to Canada in their late 20’s. She grew up speaking German and found an instant opportunity to connect with her client by literally speaking their language.
As if that connection wasn’t interesting enough, Sabrina was born in Toronto. When she was asked to relocate to Ottawa to be the day to day contact for the National Organising Committee for the Women’s World Cup, she jumped at the chance to make use of her dual citizenship.
“When we told our client that we had someone who was Canadian, spoke German, was a woman and a soccer player, there was disbelief,” said Jeff Keas. “They said ‘no way…that can’t be.’ It was meant to be, and Sabrina has been so perfectly suited to plan and work closely with our clients on this project because she has that passion. She plays the sport. She’s from the country. She speaks the language. And she understands the opportunity the FIFA Women’s World Cup provides female athletes.”
Her understanding and passion for the sport is unmatched and has helped her significantly as she works with the Organising Committee day to day. And when she isn’t planning the world’s biggest women’s soccer event, she laces up her cleats and plays in a competitive co-ed recreational league in Ottawa.
Sabrina explains that she sees the direct reward from combining her two passions – event planning and soccer – with the loyalty she feels to the country she was born in and her parent’s heritage. On a functional level, it’s allowed her to better understand the direct impact of design decisions on things like site lines and the overall experience for fans and athletes alike. But it’s also given her an added motivation – she knows first-hand the opportunity the World Cup provides for women in the sport.
“I remember watching the US win the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 1999 and thinking that I wanted to be a professional soccer player,” says Sabrina. “It was so powerful. It was a catalyst for many little girls at the time. They saw strong, talented female soccer players on an international stage. I think of that often now. This is an incredible opportunity to continue to raise the profile of women’s soccer…and I’m fortunate enough to get to help do that.”
She may not be on the pitch, but she is working with the Organising Committee– who has been intimately involved with the day to day details of the event – to impact the experience of tens of thousands of fans and millions at home. With ties to so many places, who will Sabrina be rooting for come tournament time? “I’ve got to root for Canada. How awesome would it be to see them play and win at home?”