A sporting chance

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

As long as I can remember, I've wanted to work in a field where I can use my interests and experience to make some kind of a difference to the world.

My compassion was in the right place, but it took me a few years to discover where my real passion lay.

Coming from a family full of doctors, and with my love of children and small things, it was inevitable that as soon as I could pronounce the word 'Paediatrician', that's what I decided I wanted to be. Unfortunately, I soon discovered that to be a doctor it was vital to have a keen interest in the chemical and molecular sciences and that dream rapidly evaporated (dad joke).

Next, having completed my undergraduate degree in Geography at Nottingham, I thought I might like to try my hand at becoming an environmental lawyer...until I researched just what I'd have to do in order to get there (I have friends at Uni who used to joke that the real meaning of LPC was 'Lots of Pretentious Cr*p'...although this may say more about the people I hung out with than anything else).

Finally, I was introduced to the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility rather by accident at a career talk by Shell about their activities in Africa, and that was that. I'd finally found a vocation that had the potential to bring about lasting change and that I also had a real passion for. One Masters and over five years experience as a consultant later, and I am on the cusp of starting the career I've always dreamed of having, as CSR Communications Specialist for the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (or the Fifa World Cup to you and me).
I knew that the initial reaction from family and friends about this job offer would be somewhat sceptical regarding the enormity of the job in hand. It's been impossible to escape the press coverage of the conditions that some of the migrant workers have faced out here. In response to these allegations, today the Supreme Committee released a 50-page charter which fleshes out the committee's (and country's) basic welfare obligations which were published last year, which Amnesty International has already called a 'positive step'. Having seen the 2022 strategic documents, and spoken to those at the forefront of developing the country's CSR and sustainability ambition, I have no doubt that the tournament will be a catalyst for positive and sustainable change in Qatar. 

One of the areas that I will be helping to develop will be the increased participation in sport in Qatar. This is an almost unique country, with expats making up the vast majority of the population, and community integration is difficult to achieve. When you combine these difficulties with growing health concerns (for example, Qatar has the highest prevalence of obesity of any country in the world) and a rapidly evolving physical, cultural and social landscape, it is clear how important it is to identify conduits for positive social, human and health impacts. 

Sporting activities (and especially football in my opinion), if delivered in the right way and involving the right people can help to achieve this.

Today was National Sport Day in Qatar. 3 years ago, this day was declared a national holiday in a bid to promote sport and physical activities among the population of Qatar. 






Activities for children

Activities on the beach

Activities on the sea 

It was all go!

It was so nice to walk around the Pearl and see groups of families and friends out and about participating in or watching the activities, and most importantly laughing and having fun together. 

As Rich is well into his second stint of coverage of the Qatar Tennis Open (this time with the WTA), and several high profile sporting events have been taking place in quick succession in Doha recently (such as the PSG v. Real Madrid match and the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters last month), it is clear to see that Qatar is well on the way to delivering a lasting legacy of change through sport.

Or channelling the mantra of a sporting hero, if you like.

I am taking these words with me into my new job, where I will be massively proud to be a positive part of the Qatar 2022 legacy.