Social Benefits and Empowerment Through Sport Will be Subject of Headline Debate at Doha GOALS

Nov 01, 2012, 09:48 ET from Doha GOALS

DOHA, Qatar, November 1, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --

Comic Relief Chief Executive Kevin Cahill will join athletes and policymakers to build a roadmap for change through sport

Kevin Cahill, Chief Executive of Comic Relief, has added his name to the list of individuals and organisations that will discuss sport's impact on society at a global conference to be held in Doha in December. The Doha GOALS Forum, December 10-12, will hold debates on social challenges such as the participation of women and girls in sport and sport's socio-economic impact.

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Cahill has been part of the Comic Relief organisation for over 20 years; he had the idea for Sport Relief and has seen it go from strength to strength since it was launched in 2002. He also played a key role in the Make Poverty History and Live 8 campaigns and was awarded a CBE for services to charity in 2007.

Cahill said: "When we set up Sport Relief in 2002 we believed that the power and passion of sport could truly change lives.  Now every other year hundreds and thousands of people do just that by getting active and raising millions of pounds. 

"Some of this money is then used to bring disadvantaged young people together to do sport - increasing their sense of belonging, reducing isolation and improving physical health and emotional happiness.  Ultimately sport can create stronger, more unified communities."

Doha GOALS - Gathering of All Leaders In Sport - is a new initiative designed to develop the use of sport as a driver for social and economic change. It was created under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar, and was launched during the Olympics.

The aim of the initiative is to build a community of hundreds of key influencers from all spheres of life who believe sport is a crucial vehicle for social and economic development and to deliver tangible action points on an ongoing basis.

Cahill continued: "I've seen sport, from boxing to cricket and soccer to sailing, bring about significant and important change in people's lives. But it's not the sport itself that matters - it's what goes with it. Sport gives us the opportunity to engage young people and get them involved. This is what really makes the difference: the people that inspire and the activities that motivate them to make the changes in their own lives."

Sport has been proven to have a positive effect on an individual's welfare and educational achievements. Tegla Loroupe, a world champion marathon runner and founder of the Tegla Loroupe Peace Foundation, will address some of the socioeconomic benefits to low income communities when she addresses the audience at Doha GOALS.

Loroupe said: "I started running through necessity, just to travel the 10 kilometres to school and back every day. But participation in sport, especially when achieved against the odds as I did, when I was told I was too small and too thin, is empowering and helps us achieve more than we ever dared hope."

During school years, sports participation provides boys and girls from diverse socioeconomic, racial, and ethnic backgrounds with real and measurable positive educational impacts. These range from improved school attendance, increased participation in maths and science, more time spent on homework and higher educational aspirations in their senior year.[1]

David Duke, founder and CEO of StreetSoccer Scotland, can attest to the positive impact of sport on an individual. In 2003, he was homeless; after joining a football team for the Homeless World Cup through a young person's support centre, he developed a new sense of purpose. Six years later, he founded Street Soccer Scotland, a non-profit social enterprise that uses football to help create positive change in the lives of socially disadvantaged adults and young people. He was named Change Maker of the Year this year by the Sunday Times in the UK.

Central to the success of Street Soccer Scotland has been the positive influence of mentors such as Duke. He explained: "Positive role models, whether a coach or team mate, help underprivileged people see past their own situation, beyond any negative aspects of their circumstances, and focus on values such as discipline, perseverance and respect.

"Sport levels the playing field, and gives participants an equal voice. And once they've started to develop some self-respect, they are ready to seek help to address the bigger problems in their lives."

This trio of speakers joins other key influencers at the Forum including: athletics legend and multi-Olympic gold medallist Carl Lewis; Oscar Pistorius, the first ever Paralympian to compete at an Olympic Games; Rugby World Cup-winning captain Francois Pienaar; London 2012 chairman Lord Coe; and multiple Olympic gold medallist, swimmer Mark Spitz.

Participants from 60 countries have already registered to be a part of the inaugural Forum.


[1] Ellen Staurowsky et al., Women's Sports Found., Her Life Depends On It II: Sport, Physical Activity, and the Health and Well-Being of American Girls and Women 48 (2009). See id. at 13-15, 28, 32-33, 37.) Available at:

The announcement of the initiative, from the Aspire Zone Foundation and Richard Attias & Associates, was made during the Olympics.

Sheikh Faisal Al Thani, Executive Director of Doha GOALS, says: "Doha GOALS will create a roadmap for delivering real benefits to peoples' lives through sport - as felt by some of our speakers in their own lives."

Co-founder Richard Attias, the former producer of the World Economic Forum in Davos, said: "We are bringing some of sport's great champions together in Doha to address issues that are close to their own hearts. The Doha GOALS community will provide role models at all levels and areas of sports, who will work together to bring about significant change."

Doha GOALS is a call to action that will bring together a community of policymakers and government officials, heads of business, athletes, NGOs and students to build a roadmap for how we can harness this power to improve societies around the world."

The Forum structure will include plenary sessions, debates, and focused taskforces to facilitate constructive brainstorming and focused collaboration using pioneering technology.

The objectives of the Forum were dictated by a taskforce of more than 50 of the leading policymakers, innovators, sports scientists, physicians, federations heads, academics, athletes, corporate executives and competitors who gathered for a Pre-Forum event in January 2012. This group, which included top executives from FC Barcelona, IMG, Coca-Cola, as well as federation heads, and past and present athletes, debated economic development, the commercialisation of sports, the welfare of athletes, and sport as a vehicle for tourism growth.


About Aspire Zone Foundation

Having been established in 2003 as a Sports City project, Aspire Zone Foundation (AZF) today works to develop sports champions, promote healthy lifestyles, provide sports medicine services, and galvanise the sports economy of today and of the future. Aspire Zone Foundation (AZF) is a pioneering international sport project, thanks to its member organisation which embraces Aspire Academy, Aspetar and Aspire logistics. All these corporate entities were unified by Emiri decree in 2008.

Located in Doha, Aspire Zone Foundation (AZF) boasts international-standard services and hosts global sports events; all of which contribute to the vibrant sports economy of Qatar. Aspire Zone is home to some of the world's finest sport amenities and services offering an impressive integration of sport, sports medicine and research, and sport education. It is a perfect setting to combine sport and leisure.

Moreover, AZF was voted the World's Leading Sports Tourism Development Project for the World Travel Awards 2011; an award that is deserved indeed. In 2011 alone, Aspire Zone was honoured with the successful hosting of high profile events, such as the opening ceremony of the AFC Asian Cup 2011, some of the tournament games, and some competitions of the regionally-renowned Arab Games.

About Richard Attias & Associates

Richard Attias & Associates is a strategic communications firm that provides private consultancy and idea initiatives. Our mission is to help leaders, corporations and nations build their global influence, catalyze innovation and lead the global exchange of ideas. Using our strategic and operational expertise, we create interactive platforms, living laboratories of human capital, and historic cultural exchanges that help foster positive change for the global community. 

Some of the work that RAA has created or produced in the last year includes: New York Forum® and New York Forum® AFRICA; APEC CEO Summit in Hawaii; The New York Times Schools for Tomorrow, Energy for Tomorrow and Opportunities for Tomorrow conferences; Global Food Security Forum in Morocco; Global Competitiveness Forum in Saudi Arabia; Qatar - US Business Forum in New York; Conference of Nobel Laureates; and African Securities Exchange Association Summit. 

Richard Attias is a global influencer and was the exclusive producer of the World Economic Forum meetings, including the Davos Forum for 14 years and the co-founder of the Clinton Global Initiative. With offices in New York, Paris, Doha, Rabat and Beijing, the RAA mission is a "call to action" to all global leaders, by creating borderless communities, and facilitating business opportunities for growth recovery through the New York Forum Institute, a not-for-profit Foundation.

About Sport Relief

As the nation celebrates the biggest ever year of sport, the entire country joined in the fun with Sport Relief 2012 from Friday 23rd to Sunday 25th March.  Over one million men, women and children took part in the Sainsbury's Sport Relief Mile to help poor and disadvantaged people here at home in the UK and across the world's poorest countries.  From David Walliams' Thames swim to Eddie Izzard's 43 marathons in 51 days, Sport Relief has a unique history of brave celebrities taking on gruelling, physical challenges to raise cash and change lives. Sport Relief 2012 was no exception with The BT Sport Relief challenges, a series of celebrity endurance feats.

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