Brainstorming sessions in Doha to benefit sports world: Official

December 11, 2012 - 1:15:15 am

FROM LEFT: Richard Attias, Executive Producer of Doha Goals, Sheikh Faisal bin Mubarak Al Thani, Executive Director of Doha Goals, and Australian swimmer Ian Thorpe during the Doha Goals Forum press conference at Aspire Dome yesterday. Thorpe will be among the sporting athletes to speak at the Doha Goals Forum that takes place at Aspire Dome today and tomorrow. PICTURE BY: KAMMUTTY VP

DOHA: Qatar is hoping that ideas raised at the Doha Goals Forum could prove to be a catalyst for global change in the way sports industry is looked at around the world.

The three-day event, which started yesterday at Aspire Dome, has attracted well-known sporting names, policy-makers and CEOs. 

The keynote speakers will discuss and exchange ideas in plenary sessions and debates today and tomorrow on how make changes for the better in sport. 

The inaugural edition of Doha Goals Forum is being held under the patronage of the Emir H H Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani.

The Doha Goals Forum will act as a platform to enable a sustainable growth through sport, an official said.

“Hundreds of people will take part in discussing effects of sport during the forum. Sports federations, clubs, individuals, media and 400 students will all be in the same building to discuss new initiatives. This Forum is not just for Qatar or the Middle East, it is for all the countries in the world wishing to make a difference,” Sheikh Faisal Al Thani, Executive Director of Doha Goals, said yesterday.

Joining Sheikh Faisal at the press conference was Richard Attias, Executive Producer of Doha Goals and Olympic champion Ian Thorpe from Australia. 

Attias said that the organising committee of Doha Goals was proud that ‘big profile sporting names’ had joined the Forum. 

Attias hoped the Forum would generate positive results.

“This event (Doha Goals) is a process and thanks to Qatar, many people will be able to talk, exchange ideas. It’s not one part of action we have to assemble, it’s a process and it will lead to a successful project,” Attias said.

“We think come December 12, there will be a way of making a change. One of the big differences is the format of the conference. In the format itself, 50 per cent of the programme will allow people to share ideas about different topics  and areas of sport.”

Thorpe, who enjoyed a hugely successful swimming career, having won five gold medals at the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games cannot wait to share his opinions.

The Australian said: “I’m very excited to play a role in which each and every one will be able to contribute to, and there will be clear objectives to come at the end of this forum. I think it’s great that students, national sporting bodies and political figures have an idea of what that want sport to become.”

Thorpe added: “Apart from playing sport, it also has the effect of a social change around the world. I’d like to see sport become more successful.”

The 30–year-old said he will explain why he decided to retire from the sport in 2006 during the Forum. 

Nicknamed as the ‘Thorpedo’, the 6ft 5inch star admited he wanted to address the issue of how to make swimming more ‘accessible’ in all parts of the world.

“Swimming is not a popular sport in this region. But there is no reason why it can’t be. Maybe more intentions are needed to show other people in the region what other sports are available. I have an opinion about sport and that should be inclusive,” emphasised Thorpe, who became the first person to win six gold medals in one world competition at the 2001 World Aquatic Championships in Japan.

“I participated in a sport that is more and more inclusive.  Although the participation of swimming is the highest in the world, the costs means swimming is becoming more expensive. So addressing issues like this is how swimming can be more accessible to a wider community,” said Thorpe, who provided expert analysis for the BBC channel during the London 2012 Olympic Games.  THE PENINSULA