(MENAFN - Gulf Times) Thirty children from nine sub-Saharan African countries and the Palestinian Territory stand to benefit substantially from the 10-day United Nations Office on Sport for Development and Peace (UNOSDP) 2012 Youth Leadership camp, which started at the Academy for Sport Excellence (Aspire) yesterday.
Along with the 18 female and 12 male participants from abroad, four youth from Qatar, spotted by Reach Out to Asia (Rota) will also join the camp, giving the event a local flavour and exposure to different cultures, backgrounds and innovative ideas. Interacting with journalists on the opening day, UN Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace Wilfred Lemke said the camp's main goal is to make the participants' careers more meaningful and turn each of them into champions in their lives, and also to make them true leaders in the communities where they lived.
"With the exposure that they get at the facilities at the Aspire, they should be able to serve themselves as role models to their lesser fortunate fellow citizens," hoped Lemke.
"As those who oversee the activities and deliberations at the camp, each of us have involved in its preparations and training and are hopeful that the participants would be able to use sport as a tool for peace in their communities in future," said Lemke.
The children who were selected on the recommendations of reliable and relevant non-government organisations (NGOs) have come from slums, refugee camps and also from similar surroundings, said Lemke. The UN Adviser said all those selected for this year's first camp have already made significant contributions in the field of Sport for Development and Peace (SDP) through a variety of grassroots projects in their respective communities.
The UN official who himself is a sport veteran with more than five decades experience, said his office has planned four camps a year with the participation of at least 1,000 youth in the coming years. "The United Nations has long understood the unique power of sport for change, but for the change to materialise there needs a strong leadership," said Lemke.
The Doha camp, he said, consists of 10 days of experimental learning for which a unique curriculum was specifically developed, addressing themes such as health, gender, disability, education and peace. Speaking later, four-time Winter Olympic gold medallist in speed skating and CEO of President of Canada-based Right to Play International Johann Olav Koss said "our field of sport for development and peace needs the energy and innovation that is found in younger generations.
"We are proud to support the UNOSDP and youth leaders with this essential initiative" he said. Also speaking, Aspire Academy Director General Ivan Bravo said Aspire Zone Foundation is delighted to be working with the UNOSDP and hosting this exciting initiative to improve the leadership skills of young individuals.
English football club, Liverpool's Foundation Director Gary Adlin who was also present at the briefing, said the camp would go a long way in giving its participants exposure to top facilities.