A youth sports development programme to unearth future Emirati Olympians at the grassroot level in the country has been launched.
Procter & Gamble (P&G), a worldwide partner of the International Olympic Committee, have joined hands with the UAE National Olympic Committee (UAENOC) in an ambitious project aimed to benefit schoolchildren between the ages of 11 and 15.
The UAE Athletics Federation (UAEAF) will be tasked with implementing a plan to scout, train and prepare young UAE nationals to become world class athletes in order to compete at future Olympic Games.
The school Olympiad hopes to identify and develop a number of young athletes who will gain additional support in the hope of qualifying for future Olympic Games from a starting base of over 10,000 UAE schoolchildren.
"We are embarking on a programme for the welfare and promotion of youth and sports. It is the 'Road to Olympic medals'. It is a fantastic way to start with Procter & Gamble and we feel it is the right way to start. Our agreement is for 12 months but it could go on for 10 years," said Abdulrahman Falaknaz, Finance Director, UAE NOC at a press conference in Dubai on Sunday.
“For P&G, this partnership is about bringing together our purpose of improving people’s lives and the Olympic Games purpose of building a better world through sport,” said Al Rajwani, Vice-President and General Manager for P&G in the Arabian Peninsula and Pakistan.
“Through our brands we will support this search to find UAE Olympic athletes and medal-winners of the future by focusing on the first 12 months of this exciting school sports programme. Alongside this, as a company, we will serve as the ‘Proud Sponsor of Moms', because behind every amazing young athlete – elite or beginner – is an even more amazing mom,” he stated.
"The schools programme will consist of five athletic discplines for boys and girls between the age groups 11 to 13 and 13 to 15. It is a far reaching programme and a fantastic opportunity to identify talent," said Jeff O'Brien, Marketing representative of the UAENOC.
"It is not a sponsorship. This is a partnership. Normally to get a sponsorship is not difficult because we have experience in Dubai Marathon, Women's Run, etc. But to get somebody to support and be a partner for a long term depends on trust companies have in the federation," said Ahmed Al Kamali, President of the UAEAF.
He feels this was an endorsement of their achievements during the past three and half years.
"From 1976 to 2008 athletes won 129 medals but in the past three and half years we have won 106 medals. For the first time we have athletes who have qualified for the London Olympics," he said.
Falaknaz also acknowledged athletics was chosen for the pilot project because they have achieved results.
"Athletics have a very good programme and the federation's representatives have qualified for the Olympics. For us to qualify is much better than being an invitee. You have achieved something and therefore the possiblity of them doing better is greater," he said adding it would not only benefit athletics but sports all across the board.
Mohammed Al Kamali, Secretary General, UAENOC stated: “The Olympic Games spirit is devoted to improving life through sport, and P&G’s purpose is to touch and improve lives. We are delighted to have P&G as a partner making a difference for young athletes, moms and families in the UAE.”
"We will also be reaching out via facebook and twitter pages to spread the word of this partnership and encourage supporting the most important process P&G has been involved yet in the UAE," added Al Rajwani.