SOP: Schoolchildren begin hunt for glory
23 Oct 2017 - 23:44
Doha: The 11th edition of the Schools Olympic Program (SOP) kicked off on Sunday at Qatar Sports Club with the participation of 214 boys’ schools (119 public schools and 95 private schools) and 186 girls’ schools (105 public schools and 81 private schools).
Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC) Secretary-General Jassim Rashid Al Buainain attended the ceremony along with Rabia Mohamed Al Kaabi, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Education and Higher Education and chairman of Qatar School Sports Association (QSSA); QOC Sports Affairs Director Khalil Al Jaber; QSSA Secretary General Ali Al Hitmi; QSSA Executive Director Abdul Rahman Al Muftah, and a number of guests and participating schools.
The new edition of SOP comprises 11 games, including 4 team games (football, handball, volleyball and basketball) as well as individual games (gymnastics, swimming, athletics, table tennis, fencing, tennis, and shooting). The opening of the program saw the start of the basketball and football competitions.
In a statement after the opening of the program, Al Buainain said that the SOP is a strategic project and needs a lot of work and focus on the selection of talents involved in it in order to increase the benefit as it is in the interest of national sport, expressing hope to reach the desired goals.
The QOC secretary general stressed that the committee significantly supports SOP even after the QSSA took over supervision of the program, especially that the objectives set for the SOP are in the public interest regardless of who is responsible for the organisation of the event.
Buainain said that the development of athletes capable of serving the Qatari sport is one of the top priorities, and this will be achieved only by concerted efforts and taking advantage of the existing capacities in an ideal manner, with a focus on the importance of achieving the objectives set for the SOP.
For his part, Al Hitmi expressed his confidence in the success of this edition of the SOP, especially in light of the wide school participation and the full readiness of the association to organise it.
Al Hitmi said that starting the program from the beginning of the season will facilitate the achievement of goals, noting that the beginning was good considering that the previous edition was delayed due to the transfer of the program from the QOC to QSSA, expressing hope that the current edition will be a real experience for the association.
He added that the goal is to provide students with a large space to play sports and install its value in them as an important factor in building a civilised Qatari society and achieving Qatar’s National Vision 2030, which pays attention to human development.
On organising the competitions at schools, the QSSA secretary general said that organising the majority of competitions at schools would revive and strengthen school sports and give students a kind of change because holding them outside schools would prevent a large number of students from participation and benefiting from interaction with the program.
For his part, Al Kaabi said the wide participation in the current SOP edition, which reached 400 government and private schools, contributes to the achievement of the goal of the program in terms of spreading the culture of sport in the Qatari society in order to serve the society and ensure a high level of public health.
Al Kaabi said the program will “work on more talent discovery in the school program, especially since there are technical committees in each of the participating federations to follow the competitions and choose the best players in order to benefit from them in the future and to establish an appropriate base of athletes in different games.”
Meanwhile, Al Jaber said that, since its first edition, SOP has achieved its goal in terms of expanding the base of sports participation across the different age groups.
Over the past few years, he said, participation has been growing year-on-year, adding that there is constant thinking about the development of competitions in order to benefit sport.
He noted that the swimming association benefited greatly from the Olympic program by recruiting promising swimmers who are now part of the different national teams.
“Without a doubt, the program has achieved great success in the previous years and everyone wishes these successes to continue in this year’s edition and I wish success to all,” Al Jaber said.