17 May 2006

Star Athletes, Schoolchildren Join the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and Qatar National Olympic Committee to Kick-Off Global Sport Fund

VIENNA, 17 May 2006 (UN Information Service) - The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Qatar National Olympic Committee officially launched the Global Sport Fund today in an event featuring professional athletes and schoolchildren.

The event, held at the ASPIRE Academy's sports dome in Doha, Qatar, highlighted the mission of the Fund to use sport to teach healthy life skills to young people to prevent drug use and crime.

UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa and the Director General of the Qatar National Olympic Committee (QNOC), His Excellency Sheikh Saoud Bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, were joined by Dutch footballer Ronald de Boer, midfielder with Qatar's Al-Rayyan football club, and two members of the Qatar National Handball Team.

The athletes held sporting exhibitions and talked with the schoolchildren about the importance of  a healthy, drug-free lifestyle. They emphasized that sport is about tolerance and cooperation as much as competition.

"When you play sport, it's important to respect yourself, your mind and your body," de Boer told the schoolchildren. "You can't play well or with focus if you're involved in drugs or distracted by peer pressure."

"If you can have a healthy and active society because of access to athletics, then you've changed the lifestyle through sports and that's a good thing," added HE Sheikh Saoud. "The Global Sport Fund is an opportunity to extend this message to children around the world."

Earlier this week, Mr. Costa named Nasser Al-Attiyah, world champion rally car driver and Olympic shooter, as the first GSF Ambassador. Al-Attiyah will use his position as a high profile athlete to raise awareness about the potential of sport to prevent young people from getting involved with drugs and crime.

"The commitment of all of these athletes to their sport and to being at their best is an example we want to share," said Mr. Costa. "Thanks to the generosity of QNOC, we have the opportunity to teach children through sport to learn to live together, play together and make better choices in life."

UNODC and QNOC partnered in 2005 in a ground-breaking agreement to establish the Global Sport Fund.

The Fund, made possible by a generous contribution from Qatar, will provide grants to NGOs for projects that use sport to prevent drug use and criminal behaviour among young people. It will sponsor events, youth camps and exhibitions and hold training seminars for coaches and young people. QNOC is also providing facilities at its Doha headquarters to house the GSF and the newly opened UNODC office.

The GSF Grant Programme is designed to encourage NGOs to be creative in developing sport-related prevention projects that best meet the needs of young people in their communities. Applications from organizations worldwide will be accepted for project proposals beginning on 26 June, the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. The 2006 grant recipients will be announced in November 2006.

For information contact:

Richard Murphy
Chief, Advocacy Section, UNODC
Telephone: +43 1 260 60 5761
E-mail: richard.murphy@unodc.org