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DOHA GOALS Forum 2014

Jonas Ratajczak

Posted: November 16, 2014

From the 3rd till the 5th November this year the DOHA GOALS Forum took place for the third consecutive year in Doha, Qatar. Situated next to the Khalifa International Stadium, which will host 2022 FIFA World Cup games and is currently under construction 24/7 in order to significantly increase the seating capacity, the Aspire Zone, a state of the art multi purpose sport facility, “gathered all leaders in sport”, as according to the DOHA GOALS mission. A number of these ‘leaders’ were, as with previous years, over 400 university students from every continent, all across the world with sport related backgrounds, which were generously invited by the Forum. Besides giving these selected students the great opportunity to participate in the forum and to meet distinguished sport business professionals, former athletes and like-minded students, it soon became obvious that they were also required to fill the seats in front of the stage. Without them and by only relying on paying delegates, the atmosphere would have failed to have made an impression. The key topics of the DOHA GOALS Forum were as diverse as its audience, encompassing wide-ranging areas like politics, health, innovation, business and education to name a few. Approaching this number of diverse topics within a two and a half day forum in a sufficient way is more than challenging. This became clear during the numerous debates, for instance on the topic of “Transforming Sport Sponsorship” with a panel of six distinguished speakers, including Lesa Ukman (IEG United States), Sally Hancock (Former Lloyds Banking Group UK) and Iskandar Shahril (General Motors Singapore). As a matter of fact the given time frame of 30 minutes for the whole debate was not nearly sufficient in order to allow every participant the time they deserved based on the expertise they brought to the panel. As a result the overall schedule soon became delayed and questions from the audience were unfortunately skipped in order to make up time. However, the positive aspect about inviting so many speakers from so many backgrounds is that there was something included for literally everyone and the chances that everyone’s field of interest was addressed were high.

Between the individual debates, the so-called ‘Time Outs’ were used to interview mainly former famous athletes about the highlights of, as well as life after their careers. Even though the outcome of these sessions were neither surprising nor innovative, listening to boxing legend George Forman narrating about the “rumble in the jungle” or to former German record goal keeper Oliver Kahn philosophising about how to catch a penalty gave the Forum a touch of celebrity, a circumstance that loosened the atmosphere and was gladly recognised, especially by younger student delegates.

The main schedule of the two and a half day programme was surrounded by several side events, which allowed the delegates to arrange networking meetings using the online platform developed specifically for this purpose, to participate in Task Forces to show some hands-on involvement, or to prove themselves in their sport of choice against, among others, Dikembe Mutombo (eight-time NBA All-star) or Deng Yaping (18-Time Table Tennis World Champion).

In summary, it can be said that the DOHA GOALS Forum 2014 addressed many contemporary issues spanning the broad spectrum of sports through involving a wide array of distinguished speakers from different backgrounds. Due to the sheer amount of comprehensive topics and the resulting lack of time for each debate, no new in-depth insights were gained. On the other hand the chosen programme attracted delegates from diverse backgrounds and professions, a circumstance that enabled enthusiastic discussions among delegates and speakers and helped to broaden the horizon on the different aspects of sports. The student delegates, especially, benefited from the networking opportunity and the approachability of business leaders and sports professionals. All in all DOHA GOALS offered a great experience for every participant in a city that momentarily cannot be more closely related to development in sports. By the way, the controversial issue of the 2022 FIFA World Cup was not raised during the Forum. One reason might be the strong conjunction between the Forum and the Qatari government. However, we won’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

About Jonas Ratajczak

Jonas Ratajczak graduated from Coventry University with a Master of Arts with distinction in Sport Marketing (MA) and a bachelor’s degree in Sport Management from the Ostfalia University of Applied Sciences in Germany. He is mainly interested in fan engagement and consumer behavior in sports related topics. Contact: Jonas.Ratajczak@web.de // Twitter: @JoRataj