The GCC Olympic Committees have put young people at the heart of their proposals made at the 29th meeting of the GCC Olympic Committee Presidents, a two-day summit hosted by the Qatar Olympic Committee in Doha, Qatar this week.
Proposals include a GCC-wide Sport Day, a GCC Youth Games and implementing daily physical education classes in all GCC schools.
Speaking from the summit, Secretary General of the Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC), H.E. Sheikh Saoud Bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, said: “The Qatar Olympic Committee is united with all GCC Olympic Committees in our ambition to engage and inspire young people through the power of sport, use sport to strengthen society and to promote Olympic values.
“Youth sports participation and education is a key focus of the International Olympic Committee’s Agenda 2020 reforms and we are committed to supporting the IOC in their implementation of these recommendations.
“We are very pleased with the proposals put forward at the GCC Olympic Committee meetings this week and we look forward to an exciting future for youth participation across the whole of the GCC.”
On behalf of the Qatar Olympic Committee, Sheikh Saoud put forward the suggestion to hold a GCC-wide Sport Day following the success of Qatar’s annual National Sport Day (NSD), which recently celebrated its fourth edition. The proposal was unanimously backed by all attendees, and is due to be held on the second Saturday of February each year.
Speaking about the proposed GCC-wide Sport Day, Sheikh Saoud said: “Much like our own National Sport Day, the GCC-wide Sport Day is about much more than just one day of sports.
— Qatar Olympic Team (@qatar_olympic) March 1, 2015
“It aims to encourage young people and the public at large to include sports in their everyday life by making sporting activities more accessible and by highlighting the benefits of a healthy, active life.”
The pan-GCC Sport Day is the second pioneering sports initiative Qatar has spread across the region, the first being Qatar’s unique Schools Olympic Program (SOP). Now in its eighth year, the SOP is a multisport competition among all levels of schools in Qatar for students aged from 5 to 18 years.
All six GCC countries have, or are in the process of, adopting their own SOP-inspired programs to support the development of talented young athletes and instill sporting values in all students.
Other proposals that focused on strengthening youth participation in sports included instituting daily physical education classes in schools across the GCC. These classes aim to educate elementary, secondary and high school students on the benefits of physical education while simultaneously developing their practical skills in various sports, and spreading the Olympic values.
It was also proposed to create a GCC Youth Games, which would enable young people from across the GCC to gain experience of competing in an international, multi-sport competition.
Leading stakeholders of the UAE Government joined forces yesterday at Yas Marina Circuit to announce the launch of the Zayed Marathon 2015, the day the UAE runs together.
Held on March 21, the race is organised by the Armed Forces Officers Club in collaboration with Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi Sports Council, Abu Dhabi Health Services Company.
It was also announced that registrations are now open for the popular annual event, which raises money for the Healthy Kidney Foundation, and is open to runners of all abilities, aiming to get members of the community fit and active by running together.
All proceeds from the AED 100 registration fee will go to the Healthy Kidney Foundation.
The Zayed Marathon honours the country's founding President, H.H. Sheikh Zayed, an avid supporter of kidney charities, and is held under the patronage of Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs.
Featuring a brand new pro-field category for more experienced runners the Zayed Marathon is the only run in the region to offer a mixture of traditional UAE heritage and fitness and encourages runners of all abilities from beginners to the more advanced to get active and run together.
Two distances, a 10K and 5K run around the iconic F1 circuit, are open to participants of all ages and nationalities, and there is also a 5K “Hand Cycle” race for wheelchair competitors. There is a total prize fund of AED 250,000 this year, with cash prizes awarded for first, second and third places in all events.
This year, for the first time, all entrants to the Zayed Marathon will have their BMI index and other data measured on site as part of the Yas Marina Circuit’s ongoing ‘Big Data’ health audit initiative to benchmark the UAE’s activity habits.
The information collected will add to the existing knowledge base for use in future health planning strategies in the emirate.
Lieutenant-General Mohammad Al Kaabi, of the Armed Forces Officers Club, said “The Zayed Marathon seems to get bigger and better every year, and has become a key event in the Abu Dhabi health and fitness calendar.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity for people – whether they’re seasoned athletes or complete beginners – to come together for a great cause, have some fun and of course enjoy the fitness benefits.
“We are honoured to be continuing the work of Sheikh Zayed, raising money and awareness of the Healthy Kidney Foundation.”
Spectators at this year’s race are in for a treat too, with a lively programme of entertainment away from the track to keep the whole family amused.
This will include free children’s activities, food and beverage stalls and live performances from Arabic and Western artists.
Each competitor will receive a timing chip, finisher shirt and race number. Entrants must be at least 15 years of age.
Runners can enhance their race preparations by signing up for the hugely popular training programmes held at the weekly TrainYAS and GoYAS sessions.
A social media campaign will run alongside this year’s event, and competitors are encouraged to post their best preparation stories on Instagram using the hashtag #ZayedMarathon. Everyone who posts will be in with a chance of winning return flights and accommodation to the Healthy Kidney 10k in New York City on 30th May.
Al Tareq Al Ameri, CEO of Yas Marina Circuit, urged as many people as possible to sign up for the Zayed Marathon.
He said: “We are pleased to welcome the return of the Zayed Marathon to the circuit. We are huge advocates of leading a healthy and more active lifestyle and the Zayed Marathon is a great way for members of the local community of all ages to get motivated and enjoy a fun day out.”
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