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Youngsters in Qatar talk about their experience of the ground-breaking Schools Olympic Programme


The third edition of Schools Olympic Program (SOP) under the theme "Sport & Culture" is great. Qatar's Schools Olympic Programme has already been spoken of with admiration and enthusiasm by the Olympic Movement, National Olympic Committees and former track stars like Carl Lewis, who have devoted their time to using sport to improve the lives of young people. Some of the participating students tell their stories about the program. They were asked about the level of change in their school's sporting life since the programme was launched - and about the way they see their sporting future and that of Qatar in the coming years. The Qatari student Haya Jamal Al Hitmi is in Year 9 at Qatar Intermediate School for girls. She plays in the handball team which represented the school in SOP competitions and won the gold medal last season. The Schools Olympic Programme, she says, gave her the opportunity she had been waiting for to satisfy her love for her favourite sport, handball, as she could train more and develop her skills. Haya thinks that this programme "is much better than what was going on previously, since it provides youth with the opportunity to practice their interests, not only in sport but also in many other cultural and artistic domains, due to the various accompanying activities organised during the programme." Muawiya Abdulrahman a student at Al Ahnaf Bin Qais Intermediate Independent School for boys, says he has noticed an important improvement in school sports since the launch of the Schools Olympic Programme. "This improvement appeared mainly in the greater number of events and matches. The students have more opportunities to practice and develop their skills and experience by playing many more matches and participating in many more races, especially for those who are talented and have a chance to progress. At the same time, competitions are running in an atmosphere of fun between students of various schools." Meanwhile, Ali Hassan Al Jassim of the same Al Ahnaf Bin Qais Intermediate Independent School for boys, says "Competitions dramatically increased in number, and were organised in a better way and in an appropriate atmosphere for enhancing our technical levels as well as the commitment to discipline and fair play." Ali Hassan, moreover, does not think that practicing sport affects his studies since academic success at school remains of highest priority for the future of the student. "The student should devote the same interest to his studies as his sport activities until he finishes his secondary studies. Then, if he and his PE teachers or coaches are sure that he has the talent for a successful career in sport, he could dedicate more time and effort to his sport."
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