Generation Amazing festival discusses how sport can help overcome global challenges
December 06 2020 12:54 AM
SC Secretary-General HE Hassan al-Thawadi (bottom left) made the welcoming remarks.

Sport has the ability to connect people – bridging both communities and generations – and help to tackle global issues such as Covid-19, Qatar’s second annual Generation Amazing youth festival has been told.
The three-day event is being hosted virtually by the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), with Qatar Foundation (QF) as a strategic partner. Gathering together young people from Qatar, the region, and the world, and showcasing the capacity of football to unify, empower, and drive positive social change, it opened with a panel titled ‘Celebrating the Power of Sport to Inspire and Connect Youth’.
Following welcoming remarks by HE Hassan al-Thawadi, secretary-general of the SC, Machaille Hassan al-Naimi, President of Community Development, QF, who was among the panellists in the opening session, said: “Sport instils incredible behaviours and values that cut across different sectors in our lives.
“It teaches things like teamwork, fairness, leadership, respect, and, most importantly, cross-cultural differences and tolerance. It is a great equaliser, bringing people from different paths together. 
“When children can look at sports teams and see people of different nationalities, and different walks of life, focusing on one shared goal, it shows them that there is something greater than the individual themselves, and they can all come together.”
Explaining how this is reflected in QF’s community development focus, al-Naimi pointed to the organisation’s Ability Friendly programmes, which span swimming, football, and horse-riding and create inclusive sporting opportunities for all within Qatar’s community. 
And speaking about the importance of role models, she explained how athletes have brought crucial issues to the forefront of the global agenda, with professional sportspeople like Manchester United and England footballer Marcus Rashford helping others amid the Covid-19 pandemic, highlighting the importance of inclusivity and leading by example. 
“When it comes to role models, sport and sportspeople play a very key role in that young people try to emulate their lives – they look up to them because they admire them,” she said. 
Also joining the panel discussion was former Canadian footballer Karina LeBlanc, an Olympic bronze medallist at the London 2012 Games and a FIFA Legend, who reiterated the importance of role models in the world of sports. “We try to win on the field, but once we step off the field, we want to use our voices on a platform to truly make a difference to the next generation’s lives,” she said. “I believe we’re role models; testaments to what this game can do.
“I’ve had the honour of participating in five different World Cups. And they’re special moments. But when you see the power of the game, and you talk to the kids, all of us dare to dream ridiculously big. And all of us had people who told us we couldn’t do it.
“But if you dare to dream so big it scares you, and if you’re willing to work hard, to not listen to those who tell you can’t do it, to understand that you have greatness within yourself, and to go after that, I think anything is possible.” 
Established in 2010 as part of Qatar’s successful bid to host the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, the SC’s Generation Amazing programme uses a football-for-development approach to educate young people about values such as gender equality and inclusivity, and life skills that include communication, organisation, teamwork, and leadership. 
In a festival discussion on Innovating World Cup Legacy to Create Long-Term Impact, Nasser al-Khori, Programmes Director, Generation Amazing, explained: “There are many legacy aspects to 2022 – from sustainability and the environment to the World Cup stadiums themselves – and for Generation Amazing, the focus is on creating a human and social legacy.
“Our pitches and programmes have provided safe spaces for communities that didn’t have access to infrastructure or youth programmes. Now we are going back to these communities to look at how we can continue to help them and build a sustainable model, because social enterprise is so important.
“In the 10 years since Generation Amazing was established, one of its biggest milestones was reaching 500,000 beneficiaries. Now we are targeting one million beneficiaries by 2022, through working with our partners to continue to promote football for development, use football for good, and make it part of the legacy of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
“We are proud to be delivering the Generation Amazing Festival 2020 in strategic partnership with Qatar Foundation, and with the invaluable support of Qatar Airways, beIN Sports, and Ooredoo. Globally, we make sure that through a collaborative approach, together with global partners like CONCACAF and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, we are developing programs that inspire and empower youth to change their communities for the better.”
Norwegian footballer Andrine Hegerberg, of Italian club AS Roma, spoke about how sport has helped children deal with the effects of Covid-19, and overcome the physiological and mental stress caused by lockdown and schools closing. Recollecting her own experience when she was in lockdown in Norway, she added: “The value of football is that it can connect people even though we’re far apart. 
“You feel like you’re together, even though you’re not physically together with a group. You feel like you’re a part of something. And I think that somehow gives meaning to life – being a part of something bigger than yourself.
“Sport is so much more than the physical effort you put into training and games. It connects people, regardless of their background, gender, or age. It’s a bridge.” 
The opening day of the festival also heard from former Australian footballer Tim Cahill – an SC ambassador – FIFA Legend and two-time FIFA Women’s World Cup winner Carli Lloyd, and ex-footballer Jason Roberts, Director of Development at CONCACAF, one of FIFA’s six continental governing bodies, who said: “Sport is not just about providing an elite pathway; it’s about providing access to sport, engaging people, and then educating them so they can positively benefit their community.”

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