By Daniel Etchells at the Marriott Hotel in Doha
Laurent Petrynka (left), President of the ISF, with Sheikh Saoud Bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani (right), secretary general of the QOC and President of the QOA, at the signing of the MoU (c)QOCThe Qatar Olympic Academy (QOA) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the International School Sport Federation (ISF) here tday.
The Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC), of which the QOA is a subcommittee, has enjoyed a long partnership with the ISF, who holding their inaugural Convention here this week.
Doha hosted the 2009 ISF Gymnasiade and last week's ISF Tennis World Schools Championships at the prestigious Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex.
Sheikh Saoud Bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, secretary general of the QOC and President of the QOA, claimed the MoU will "serve to strengthen and build on the relationship" between the two parties.
The QOA was founded in 2006 with the aim of becoming a leading academy for sports and Olympic education nationally, in the Arabic-speaking region and within the international Olympic Movement.
The ISF is a global governing body for school sport and holds international competitions to encourage education through sport.
"The Qatar Olympic Academy is extremely happy to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the International School Sport Federation," said Sheikh Saoud.
"Youth is a central theme of the IOC's (International Olympic Committee) Agenda 2020 recommendations and we all have a responsibility to address the challenges that youth sports faces.
"We look forward to working together with the ISF to develop best practice for the future of school sport globally."
Sheikh Saoud Bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, President of the Qatar Olympic Acadmey, said the MoU will "serve to strengthen and build on the relationship" between the QOC and ISF
The QOC will now work with the ISF to share the success of its Schools Olympic Programme (SOP), which was launched as a legacy of the 2006 Asian Games and has grown from 7,099 participants from 300 schools in its inaugural year, to 25,454 students from over 461 schools in 2014.
The number of sports on the programme has also risen this year to a total of 14, including Olympic and Paralympic sports.
Students compete throughout the school year with the ultimate goal of qualifying for the finals, currently taking place at the famous Aspire Dome, another legacy of the 2006 Asian Games.
Sheikh Saoud claimed that as many as 29,319 students across Qatar have benefitted from the SOP this school year alone.
"There is no better way to introduce our young people to sport at a grassroots level, educate through the values of sport and develop healthy and responsible members of society," he said
"We want as many schools as possible in as many countries as possible around the world to enjoy the same benefits that our Qatari children enjoy."
The two-day ISF Convention is taking place in Doha (c)Qatar School Sport Association
The inaugural ISF Convention, jointly hosted by the ISF, Qatar School Sport Association and the QOC, aims to address the challenges and future of global school sport by bringing together school sport experts and authorities from more than 40 countries.
These include President of the International Olympic Academy, Isidoros Kouvelos, executive director of SportandDev, Jutta Englehardt, and vice-president of Sport and Citizenship, Vincent Chaudel.
The two-day Convention will conclude tomorrow with a series of recommendations that will address how the impact of school sport on young athletes can be increased and determine the approach for long-term success.
"We express our sincere gratitude to the Qatar Olympic Committee for hosting the ISF Convention and for their support for the ISF," said Laurent Petrynka, President of the ISF.
"Not only is Qatar the world capital of sport but it does not forget about its schoolchildren.
"We are very pleased to sign an MoU with the Qatar Olympic Academy and we look forward to promoting the good practices of the Schools Olympic Programme to the whole world.
"This inaugural ISF Convention has been extremely important in progressing the ISF and deciding its future.
"The recommendations that have been made will be presented as a book of guidelines to all educational ministries around the world in order to promote school sport and ensure that there is more sport and more physical education in schools.
"We want to make a difference to the lives of all schoolchildren."
Doha hosted the ISF Tennis World Schools Championships at the prestigious Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex last week
The ISF has also used the opportunity to launch their School Sport Foundation, which aims to tackle many of the problems that developing countries face with school sport development by providing support for teacher training, school sport authorities, sport equipment provision and rewarding best practices.
The ISF and QOC called on the Convention's delegates to support this cause and help it achieve its fundraising goals.
"We believe in the vision and mission of the ISF and this Convention is very important to us," added Ali Al-Hitmi, secretary general of the Qatar Schools Sport Federation.
"In the past few months our teams have worked hard to provide an atmosphere for a high level meeting and workshops that allows us together to promote the ISF's vision and support its targets."
The ISF was founded in 1972 and has 80 member nations from five continents.
Participants at the ISF Convention will be able to attend the eighth edition of the SOP finals on Friday (March 20) and witness the success of the programme first-hand.
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