Interview with Prof. Natalia Stambulova, a winner of Ema Geron Award-2019

How did you react when you got the information that you received the Award?

My first reaction was rather typical: I did feel honored, joyful, and grateful. But the second thought was: “There are other colleagues in Sweden who might deserve it even more, for example my Halmstad colleague Prof. Urban Johnson – a founder of the sport psychology group I am a part of”. Ema Geron Award is named after the first President of the European Federation of Sport Psychology (FEPSAC) and given by the FEPSAC for “significant contribution to development of sport and exercise psychology”.

Intervjuad av: Arne Edvardsson

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I can agree that I have made a significant contribution to FEPSAC and European sport psychology through participating in 9 FEPSAC Congresses, being a member of the FEPSAC Managing Council (1995-1999), Editorial Board member and associate editor of Psychology of Sport and Exercise (2000 – present), a part of coordinators’ group of the European Master’s Studies in Sport and Exercise Psychology (2003-2015) and the EU expect group on athletes’ dual careers (2011-2012). But what was special for me is that I was nominated by the Swedish Sport Psychology Association (SIPF). My career in sport psychology covers 25 years in Russia followed by the last 18 years in Sweden and at Halmstad University. It is a great feeling to know that my professional contribution has been valued so much, and I am grateful to the SIPF Board for the nomination and to Dr. Karin Moesch for her nice speech presenting me at the Award ceremony in Muenster, July 16, 2019. 

What does the award mean to you?

It gave me a feeling that I am now recognized not only internationally, but also in Sweden – it is important for any professional migrant as I am. I am grateful to the Swedish Sports Confederation, especially to Kent Lindahl and Maja Ubel, for collaboration on dual career issues and providing me with a number of opportunities to apply my competencies on the national level. As any success, this Award can be metaphorically seen as “a short stop in the journey”, when you might have some pleasant rest but also to reflect about the past, the present, and the future. The award brought me an opportunity to celebrate a bit (e.g., with some colleagues in Muenster and my colleagues in Halmstad) but also a responsibility to be on the high level and ready for new challenges. Many people have been influencing my career, but my special thanks for multiyear collaboration and support go to my Halmstad colleagues in sport psychology/psychology, and broader – at Health and Sport department (HI) and School of Health and Welfare (HOV). 

What do you find the most exciting to work with in sport psychology?

I am over 40 years in sport psychology field and feel privileged of being able to observe its evolution and even contribute to it. Sport has been changing during these years and the same is about sport psychology that tries to notice and address new challenges through research, education, and applied work. Being a part of the athlete career field, I appreciate considering an athlete as a whole person, and researchers’ and practitioners’ shifts from focusing mainly on performance enhancement of individuals and teams to athletes’ personal and even career excellence in sport and life. Career development is a social affair, and meeting new colleagues from all over the world has been particularly exciting. I was able to work with Avksentyi Puni in Russia, I met in person such legend figures as Bruce Ogilvie and Ema Geron, I was 4 years in the FEPSAC Managing Council and then 16 years in the ISSP Managing Council –  all these brought me new friends and inspirations for work in sport psychology. I like what I am doing, and my experiences and competencies developed through the years facilitate efficient and enjoyable working process and outcomes. It is also a pleasure to share knowledge with young generation who possesses a future of sport and exercise psychology.


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