15 March 2024

Emilie Rosenkilde counts herself as one of the lucky ones when she reflects on her career to date – and she now wants to ensure other female coaches can be just as fortunate as her. 

Rosenkilde has risen through the ranks to become Head Coach of the Danish under-23 national team and assistant to the senior side in Canoe Sprint. 

She credits the International Canoe Federation and the Danish Canoe Federation in helping her to carve out a career in coaching. 

“I didn’t meet any challenges by being a female coach,” said Rosenkilde.  

“I got asked the same question a couple of year ago and I remember thinking that was an odd question. 

“Why would there be challenges by just being a female coach? 

“But I now know that a lot of female coaches do face challenges.  

“I went to the ICF Women’s Symposium in Dublin last September where I realised how many females are facing big challenges.  

“I have always had a lot of support.  

“I guess I was just lucky.”

Emilie Rosenkilde Denmark Canoe Sprint Coach

Luck may have played some part in her journey, but Rosenkilde has also been rewarded for her hard work and dedication to climb the coaching ladder. 

Rosenkilde had just finished high school when she was offered the chance to work at Nybro-Furå Kayak Club in Copenhagen. 

“My initial answer was ‘no’ as I was afraid that it was going to be very time consuming but in the end I said ‘yes’ and I completely fell in love with it,” said Rosenkilde. 

It was a decision that paid off as she went on to serve as Head Coach at the club between 2015 and 2021. 

As well as holding down this position, Rosenkilde started as Assistant Coach at the Copenhagen Talent Center of Kayak in 2017 while she was still a competitive paddler and was also juggling studies at the University of Copenhagen. 

She graduated with a Masters degree in Human Nutrition in 2021 before being offered a new role at the Copenhagen Talent Center of Kayak.

“I really wanted to work with that team because they had given me a lot as an athlete,” said Rosenkilde.  

“I wanted to give the same back to the athletes what I had received. 

“I thought it made sense to use my energy in the coaching role rather than continuing to paddle myself.” 

Emilie Rosenkilde Denmark Canoe Sprint Coach

In 2022, Rosenkilde secured the position of Head Coach at the Copenhagen Talent Center of Kayak. 

This role meant that she would also become Head Coach of the Danish under-23 national team. 

“It felt like a pat on the back showing the support of the National Federation,” said Rosenkilde.  

“I enjoy working with the athletes on a daily basis, getting to know them really well and being part of their development and journey.” 

Under Rosenkilde’s leadership, the Danish under-23 team enjoyed plenty of success last year, winning several medals on the world and European stage. 

Rosenkilde has also been involved as a coach at the ICF Talent Identification Programme. 

“For the last three years, I have been helping out with the development programme that the ICF has been running,” said Rosenkilde. 

“The ICF has been very supportive to me. 

“Knowing that other people would like to have you as part of their team has made me believe in myself.

Emilie Rosenkilde Denmark Canoe Sprint Coach

“I really like working with the development team because it is so different to what I do on a daily basis. 

“Some of the athletes don’t have the basic needs like calm water so you have got to see how you can improve them to be the best that they can be.  

“It challenges you a lot to think in different ways to find other solutions. 

“It’s something I am not used to because I feel like we are very privileged here in Denmark.” 

At 29 years old, Rosenkilde has already achieved so much in her coaching career and hopes to continue to make a positive impact on athletes and other coaches.  

“I hope that the sport can just be as big a part of my life as it is now for many years to come,” added Rosenkilde.  

“I know that there are not a lot of full-time coaching positions in Denmark so I am just trying to enjoy it right now and hoping it will last for a very long time. 

“As a female coach in Denmark, I also hope that I can inspire other girls to get there because you know what they say ‘What you can’t see, you can’t be’. 

“I never thought I would have an influence in that way, but I do hope that some more will take up the job because I know we have great potential in female coaches in Denmark.”

Related links

Canoe Sprint