Curtain comes down on SOP
CATHERINE W GICHUKI
DOHA THE fifth edition of Schools Olympic Programme (SOP) concluded on Friday with students from over 300 schools in Qatar participating in all nine sporting activities for the finals themed on ‘Sport and Family’.
The closing ceremony of the SOP was attended by Qatar Olympic Committee Secretary-General Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrahman al Thani, President of Palestine Olympic Committee Major- General Jibril Rajoub, Supreme Council for Family Affairs Secretary-General Hamad bin Mohamed al Hajiri, Under Secretary of Ministry of Education and Higher Education Rabea al Kaabi besides, presidents of sports federations and other officials.
The final was spread over two days. Female students from primary, intermediate and secondary participated in nine sporting activities on Thursday whereas male students competed in similar events on Friday.
The sporting activities included swimming, athletics, fencing, table tennis, gymnastics, football, volleyball, handball and basketball. The 2011/2012 programme officially began in November although it had kicked off way back in September as the schools prepared for the sports for their students to participate.
Friday’s event was familyoriented and fun-filled as other activities for children like face painting and children’s games also took place.
Speaking during the closing ceremony, QOC Secretary- General said, “We started the programme with 5,000 participants but the number increased to around 20000 with the participants coming from 370 schools this year.
We have reached our goal for this programme but we will carry on. Our main ambition is to attract all Qatari schools, private and government, for participation in the School Olympic Program.” He further said, “We have noticed participation by a higher number of girls since the beginning of the programme five years ago.
Female athletes have developed a culture and a passion for sports. We have seen the will to take on the challenge and the spirit of competition among all students. Everyone is looking to reach the finals in Aspire Dome. We aim to train organisers and athletes to reach a global level,” he said.
According to Hassan al Mohamedi, QOC’s head of media, more than 900 female and over 1200 male students participated in the finals of the SOP on Thursday and Friday.
“We see that every year the number of participants increases. The first edition— 2007/2008—had about 7000 students participating drawn from more than 100 schools and the 5th edition had 20000 participants from over 300 schools. This year, we have noticed that a majority of participants are not registered with any club. In the first two editions, majority of the participants were from various clubs, professionals registered with one club or another but now most of the participants are unregistered.
This is good because our aim is to raise awareness among the people about participating in sports in their daily lives,” he added.
The theme of last year’s SOP was ‘Sport and Education’ while the previous year’s was ‘Sport and Culture’.