Geoff Thompson MBE, FRSA, DL


Geoff Thompson has a 35-year track record in the social and human development of young people and communities. As a former five times world karate champion, sports administrator and politician, he has realised a unique range of skill sets that have seen him advise, develop and deliver social and human project and programme initiatives globally. Geoff has also undertaken a number of public and private sector appointments developing and contributing to equality, diversity and inclusion at all levels of society.

He is the Founder and Chair of the Youth Charter, a UK-based international charity and United Nations NGO that uses the ethics of sport, arts, cultural and digital activities to tackle the problems of educational non-attainment, health inequality, anti-social behaviour and crime in some of the most troubled areas around the world. Geoff is also a Board Member of the London Legacy Development Corporation an Advisory Board Member of the Muhammad Ali Center and was Chair of the Board of Governors at the University of East London for two years. Geoff is Chair of the Operational Board of the Professional Footballers’ Association, Deputy Chair of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and Chair of the London Youth Games.

Michele Centenaro

Independent Board Member and former GS, European Club Association

Michele is an enthusiast of the world of sport, passionate of its sporting values, highly supportive of its socio-cultural function and, as well, knowledgeable of its entrepreneurial and political dynamics. As a semi-professional footballer in Italy first, he lived in depth the real passion for the game and the so-called “locker-room spirit”. Thereafter, Michele served football throughout a 30-year executive career at top-level functions both in the sports business as well as within the international sports policy makers. At UEFA, in the UEFA, FIFA and EU Committees, and more recently as General Secretary of the European Club Association, he has been closely involved in the key developments in European and World football competitions and he’s been part in the most relevant discussions on governance and regulatory matters that have shaped the football ecosystem to date. More than anything, he’s had the privilege of meeting incredible people and visionary minds.

Michele is a strong believer of knowledge transfer and of personal enrichment by being in touch with ‘real’ people and places; that is why he is delighted to venture in the CFLI idea of forging modern sport leaders on these principles. He is excited at the prospect of contributing to an innovative educational approach and look forward to sharing his experience and personal learnings.

Karen Bardsley

Former MCFC and England Goalkeeper

Karen Bardsley joins CFLI after recently retiring from football. The Manchester City, England Lionesses & Team GB goalkeeper had an illustrious career spanning 15+ years, including 7 major international tournaments, and numerous domestic trophies. Alongside her advisory role, Karen works as a project officer for Manchester City Women, sits on the Manchester Football Association board, Chairs the Greater Manchester Women’s football board, and commentates for BBC & Sky.

‘Develop the person, develop the player.’ Developing people energises me. Therefore, working with CFLI to develop skills, opportunities and addressing key issues in sport through education is very exciting! I can’t wait to share my learnings and experiences with the world.