LONDON, August 28, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --
World Cup-winning rugby captain joins Olympic champions Carl Lewis and Mark Spitz and Paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius as part of new initiative aimed at driving social and economic change through sport
South African Rugby World Cup-winning captain Francois Pienaar is the latest high-profile name to be added to the team of sporting greats who will be speaking at the Doha GOALS Forum on December 10-12.
Doha GOALS - Gathering of All Leaders In Sport - is a new initiative designed as a "Call to Action" for the role that sport plays as a driver for social and economic change. It was created under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar, and was launched during the Olympics.
The aim of the initiative is to build a community of hundreds of key influencers from all areas who believe that sport is a crucial vehicle for nation building and development. Most importantly, the forum is designed to deliver tangible action items, such as the launching of a Global Student Ambassador programme for youth leaders from all around the world, and a global NGO to help underprivileged children.
Pienaar, who was portrayed by Matt Damon in the 2009 film Invictus, joins a list of sporting heroes who will be speaking at the Forum including: athletics legend and multi-Olympic gold medallist Carl Lewis; Oscar Pistorius, the first ever Paralympian to compete at an Olympic Games; and multiple Olympic gold medallist, swimmer Mark Spitz are all set to speak at the event.
Participants from more than 45 countries have already registered to be a part of the inaugural Forum.
"I have seen, first-hand, how sport can change mindsets - and even change a nation," said Pienaar, who helped South Africa to World Cup victory in 1995. "When Nelson Mandela presented us with the World Cup while wearing a Springboks rugby jersey, it showed the world that South Africa could be united.
"More than that, it started the healing process of a nation split by racial divisions, and sport provided us with that platform for change."
The announcement of the initiative, from the Aspire Zone Foundation and Richard Attias & Associates, was made earlier this month at Bayt Qatar, hosted by the Qatar National Olympic Committee, at the London Olympics.
Sheikh Faisal Al Thani, Executive Director of Doha GOALS, says: "There are few people that can speak as eloquently as Francois about sport's potential to drive significant social and economic change, and we look forward to learning from him, both from his time as a Springbok, but also his insights into the role of sport in society today.
Richard Attias, the former producer of the World Economic Forum in Davos, will produce Doha GOALS. He said: "By giving our community the opportunity to hear the stories of an iconic sportsman and remarkable leader such as François, who helped build the pride of a nation, Doha GOALS is already a truly outstanding initiative.
"Doha GOALS is a call to action that will bring together a community of policymakers and government officials, heads of business, athletes, NGOs and students to build a roadmap for how we can harness this power to improve societies around the world."
The Forum structure will include plenary sessions, debates, and focused taskforces to facilitate constructive brainstorming and focused collaboration using pioneering technology.
The objectives of the Forum were dictated by a taskforce of more than 50 of the leading policymakers, innovators, sports scientists, physicians, federations heads, academics, athletes, corporate executives and competitors who gathered for a Pre-Forum event in January 2012. This group, which included top executives from FC Barcelona, IMG, Coca-Cola, as well as federation heads, and past and present athletes, debated economic development, the commercialisation of sports, the welfare of athletes, and sport as a vehicle for tourism growth.
For more information:
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About Aspire Zone Foundation, http://www.aspirezone.qa/Corporate/AspireZoneFoundation.aspx
About Richard Attias & Associates, http://www.richardattiasassociates.com
SOURCE Doha GOALS