23 March 2011

Schools Olympic Program in Qatar

Healthy lifestyle takes Qatar priority as SOP points youngsters down Olympic way@Sports Features

AMPA/DOHA, Mar 18: The Qatar Olympic Committee's (QOC) Schools Olympic Program (SOP), an initiative to promote a healthy lifestyle amongst the youth of Qatar, concludes today/Saturday.

This follows qualification courses at the Aspire Academy of Sports Excellence in Doha. The SOP sees school boys and girls from five to to 18 competing for medals in common Olympic sports - including fencing, swimming, athletics, gymnastics, table tennis, basketball, football, handball, and volleyball.

The SOP also promoted a Special Day for students with special needs to compete in a variety of events.

This week was the conclusion of an action-packed five-month season which involved 17,000 students from more than 300 schools. In fact, the program aims to do more than teach a healthy lifestyle but is also intended to promote the Olympic movement among Qatari youth.

It has been such a success that the QOC was awarded the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktourn Sport Creativity Award in Dubai in January. The award was given because of the tangible efforts in developing sport through SOP.

Tommy Sithole, IOC director of international cooperation and development attending the finals, said: “Qatar as a country and the Qatar Olympic Committee are setting the pace in the area of educating young people to be environmentally conscious, and therefore ensuring their own future.

"Investing in young people and imbuing in them a culture of care, is the best gift the leadership and community can bequeath to children.”

The Program was started in 2007 by heir-apparent Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani under the banner of 'Sport for Health'. The second installment promoted 'Sport and Environment'. The third instalment focused on 'Sport and Culture'.

09 March 2011

Singapore athlete support schemes

@today

SINGAPORE - National Service (NS) and the Foreign Sports Talent (FST) scheme, two subjects that consistently come up for debate in sports circles, were discussed in Parliament yesterday.

Speaking during the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) Committee of Supply Debate, Member of Parliament Lee Bee Wah pointed to statistics that showed male paddlers accounting for 34 gold medals out of the 74 won at the last three Commonwealth and Asian Games.

"From 2002 to 2010 only 15 male gold medallists were below 30 ... that is less than two per year. The number is very small and I think it (deferment and possible exemption) is worth exploring and implementing."

Lee, president of the Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA), suggested male athletes be allowed to defer their NS, possibly to when they turn 30.

She even suggested athletes be exempted from NS if they achieve gold medal success at the Commonwealth or Asian Games, or a medal at the Olympics.

Responding, Teo Ser Luck, MCYS Senior Parliamentary Secretary, said: "MCYS and Mindef have made efforts to minimise the impact of NS on sporting development of our top male athletes and their preparation for major competitions. The SAF Sportsmen Scheme allows athletes with strong medal potential time off and Full-Pay Unrecorded Leave during their full-time NS, to train and participate in major competitions."

Teo cited the example of national sailor Justin Liu, who was granted deferment by Mindef to train for last November's Asian Games in Guangzhou. Liu, 19, and partner Sherman Cheng, also 19, won gold in the boys 470 event.

"Mindef also considers on a case by case basis where athletes may delay enlistment to prepare, or (seek) deferment. I can't speak for Mindef on exemption, but I think that is something that you may want to raise with Mindef to consider."

Nominated MP Joscelin Yeo, the most successful athlete in the history of the SEA Games with 40 gold medals, asked Teo if the FST scheme had any impact on the development of Singapore-born talent. The former swim star wondered if MCYS would "consider putting a cap on the ratio of foreign talents to locals", to encourage national sports associations (NSAs) to develop and improve their youth development programmes.

Stressing that the MCYS were committed to nurturing local youth, Teo pointed out that there were only 33 foreign-born athletes in the total number of 994 in the country's national squads. Citing the success of Youth Olympic Games silver medallist (table tennis) and Singapore Sports School graduate Isabelle Li, Teo said the ministry had invested close to S$80 million in the Sports School over the last five years and would pump in another S$20 million for FY2011.

"Going forward, we'll continue to identify and develop our youth sporting talents. Through the Singapore Sports School and planned Singapore Sports Institute, we'll provide holistic support to our top sporting talents to help them realise their potential," he added.

06 March 2011

AUS European Training Centre official open

Minister for Sport officially opens the ETC@ASC

Minister for Sport Mark Arbib today officially opened the European Training Centre (ETC), a new base for Australia's athletes in the Italian province of Varese.

Speaking at the launch of the centre, Senator Arbib said the Government was committed to ensuring Australia's athletes were given every chance to succeed on the world sporting stage.

‘The Government is committing $12.5 million for the ongoing operation of the ETC in the lead up to the London Olympics and Paralympics and beyond,’ Senator Arbib said.

‘The ETC will replicate the Australian Institute of Sport's elite high performance facilities in Europe, providing a 'home away from home' for Australian athletes.

‘As well as accommodation, the centre will provide world class sporting facilities and services such as sports science and sports medicine, strength and conditioning training and athlete career and education support where it is needed.

‘The Government has been working very closely with the Australian Sports Commission, national sporting organisations, the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC), the Australian Paralympic Committee and the Australian Commonwealth Games Association to support Australia's elite athletes as they strive to win Olympic, Paralympic and world championship gold.’

AOC President, John Coates, who also spoke at the launch, welcomed the Government's commitment to giving Australian athletes the best possible preparation and training.

‘To make it to the podium in sports which have most of their top competitions in Europe, such as rowing, cycling and sailing, Australian athletes need to have access to quality competition without the financial and physical toll of travelling back and forth between Australia and Europe,’ Mr Coates said.

‘The ETC will provide that base when our athletes are away from home and it will allow them to be at their very best.’

The ETC will provide support to sports including, but not limited to, rowing, cycling, canoeing, athletics, triathlon, volleyball, basketball, tennis, archery and shooting.

Senator Arbib said the ETC had been granted Olympic Training Centre status by the Australian Olympic Committee.

‘The opening of the European Training Centre builds on the work the Australian Government and the Australian Sports Commission are doing with the Australian Olympic committee to increase our chances of success at the 2012 London Olympics,’ Senator Arbib said.

‘The Australian Government recently announced that 10 Olympic sports would share in $2.5 million in targeted funding under the Green and Gold Project.

‘The Green and Gold Project is designed to give our athletes the best possible training and preparation the best coaching, sport science and resources and facilities.

‘And by putting more of our athletes on the podium we will inspire young people to participate in sport, which will not only help us find our next Olympic champions but will also have great health benefits, getting the kids away from the TV and on to the sports field.

‘The Green and Gold project is providing Australian sports with a targeted and timely investment into the Olympic program embracing the challenge of achieving a top five result in London.

‘The little things can often make a big difference for athletes, and the Green and Gold project, combined with the opening of the ETC, help to give our athletes the edge when chasing Olympic glory.’

04 March 2011

School Games as a legacy for 2012

Jeremy Hunt sets out plans for School Games@DCMS


The School Games tournament – inspired by the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics – will give every child the opportunity take part and compete.

As part of the offer:
- 500 schools across nine regions will pilot an annual School Games Day: a ’finals’ day stemming from a programme of intra-school competition which will offer disabled children as many opportunities as non-disabled children
- a rolling programme of leagues and tournaments will promote more competition between schools at a town or district level
- up to 60 new, county or city-level ‘Festivals of Sport’ will showcase the best of local competitive sport in the inter-school finals
- the most talented young sports people will have the chance to represent their schools in a high-profile, national event

In the spring Government will publish a prospectus for schools – setting out exactly how teachers and coaches can get involved in the School Games, including registering online.