Having met Young Athletes H.E. Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi says ‘Our Goals Are Continuity and Making Champions’
H.E. Al Falasi: • The General Authority of Sports is adopting a new approach rooted in partnership and interaction with all stakeholders in the sector. • Ability to be full-time athletes, support, and facilities and infrastructure are the main challenges on the table. • Launching programmes to scout talent from an early age and working to develop sports facilities are top priorities in the stages ahead.
“A new phase of sports and athletics has begun in the UAE,” affirmed His Excellency Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and SMEs, Chairman of the General Authority of Sports, as he met with proficient young athletes from various sports to explore the challenges they face and ways to overcome them.
H.E. added “This new stage reflects the UAE leadership’s directives to steer our efforts towards taking the entire sports ecosystem in the country to a new level, where we collaborate with all stakeholders, including young champions,”.
The meeting was a part of the ‘Future of Sports’ Dialogue initiative, that was introduced recently by the General Authority of Sports. Participants explored ways to empower young athletes, regulate the challenges standing in their way, and outline a calculated reach for the stages ahead.
H.E. Al Falasi opened the meeting with a welcome note, encouraging the young champions on their achievements, and highlighting their critical role in promoting the UAE and building its reputation. “The country’s leadership is committed to empowering Emirati youth – the most valuable resource we have to drive sustainable development and accomplish our goals for the UAE over the next 50 years,” H.E. noted.
H.E. Al Falasi explained that the General Authority of Sports is set to work with relevant authorities to introduce programmes to scout athletic talent from a young age. In parallel, sweeping developments and renovation of sports facilities will be set in motion to help create an environment that permits these talents to progress. A collaboration between the General Authority of Sports and the entities represented in the Sports Coordination Council is of utmost importance, H.E. Al Falasi asserted. The Council brings together the ministries of interior, education, health and prevention, foreign affairs and international cooperation, and culture and youth.
The participating athletes joined the conversation portraying a great sense of national responsibility and knowledge of what it means for them to carry their country’s name. They spoke openly and transparently about the challenges they face that make it difficult for them to excel at the championships they compete in, most notably the lack of facilities and stadiums to train for certain sports, obstacles to being full-time athletes, and lack of media buzz where coverage focuses only on specific sports such as football.
Participants also made clear that Emirati athletes now crave to more than participating in regional competitions, setting their sights on continental championships. The meeting brought up the issue of clubs cancelling certain sports, which negatively affected their popularity and made them less appealing to children and youth.
“Throughout my previous meetings with stakeholders in the sector, I sensed a real desire for meaningful change in sports that mirror the tremendous achievements the UAE has made in other industries, climbing to the top of global competitiveness indexes,” H.E. Al Falasi said. “Everyone is keen to draw from past experiences and outline a new roadmap for sports that aligns with our plans for the UAE’s 50th anniversary. We need to clearly define roles, set goals, develop accountability procedures to always make sure we are working on solid foundations. Our goal is to ensure continuity, make champions, and help the UAE make its mark in every major competition.”
“The UAE strives to make a name for itself in continental sports by winning championships on one hand, and taking on leadership roles in continental sports federations on the other,” H.E. added. “We are here to support anyone who aspires for a seat at the table in international organisations. We must re-examine certain practices and ensure their agility in order to meet the rapid developments taking place around the world – and in sports, in particular – paving the way for more accomplishments.”
The General Authority of Sports launched the ‘Future of Sports’ Dialogue in an effort to promote collaboration among sports federations and organisations, bringing together stakeholders from across the local sports sector. The Dialogue includes of a series of events that gather stakeholders from the industry, including interactive discussions, field visits, workshops, coordination meetings, brainstorming sessions, and other various activities. The initiative is based around the five principles of partnership, governance, nurturing talent, community sports, and advancing the UAE’s status.
The ‘Future of Sports’ Dialogue epitomizes the vision of the General Authority of Sports to promote cooperation and work together to drive the local sports sector towards bigger achievements. It aims to develop new strategies and procedures to enhance the local sports scene and carve a place for the sector in the UAE’s comprehensive development plans, in line with the country’s directives for the next 50 years.