South African Rugby World Cup-winning captain Francois Pienaar is the latest high-profile name to be added to the team of sports stars who will speak at the Doha GOALS (Gathering of All Leaders in Sport) Forum on Dec. 10-12.
The Forum, developed with the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar and
launched during the Olympics, is a new initiative designed as a “Call to Action” for the role that sport plays as a driver for social and economic change, per a release.
The organizers say the aim is to build a "community of hundreds of key influencers from all areas who believe that sport is a crucial vehicle for nation building and development." A Global Student Ambassador program for youth leaders from around the world is one such community that the Forum is organizing.
Cinemaphiles who know nothing of rugby may remember Pienaar as portrayed by Matt Damon in the 2009 film Invictus. Others speaking at the Forum are multi-Olympic gold medallist Carl Lewis; Oscar Pistorius, the first ever Paralympian to compete at the regular Olympic Games; and multiple Olympic gold medallist, swimmer Mark Spitz..
The group says participants from more than 45 countries have already registered to be a part of the inaugural Forum.
The announcement of the initiative, from the Aspire Zone Foundation and Richard Attias & Associates, was made earlier this month at Bayt Qatar, hosted by the Qatar National Olympic Committee, at the London Olympics.
Richard Attias, the former producer of the World Economic Forum in Davos, will produce Doha GOALS. The Forum structure will include plenary sessions, debates, and focused task-forces to facilitate constructive brainstorming and focused collaboration using pioneering technology.
The group says that objectives of the Forum were dictated by a task force of more than 50 of the leading policymakers, innovators, sports scientists, physicians, federations heads, academics, athletes, corporate executives and competitors who gathered for a Pre-Forum event in January. "This group, which included top executives from FC Barcelona, IMG, Coca-Cola, as well as federation heads, and past and present athletes, debated economic development, the commercialization of sports, the welfare of athletes, and sport as a vehicle for tourism growth."