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Building Bridges

The Josoor Institute, an initiative driven by the organisers of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, looks set to be build a strong skills base for the sports industry in Qatar and the Middle East. Kevin Roberts reports.

Josoor is the Arabic word for bridge, and the Josoor Institute intends to do just that – use the FIFA World Cup in 2022 to build bridges between “the reality in which young people live and their aspirations for the future”, according to Hassan Al Thawadi, secretary general of the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee.

The Supreme Committee has partnered Doha’s Aspire Academy, Georgetown, Qatar and Leeds Metropolitan Universities and commercial organisations including IMG, Wasserman, Deloitte, SportBusiness Group and Rushmans in the Institute, which will deliver a range of professional certificate and diploma programmes designed to prepare graduates for managerial roles in sport.

More than 1,000 participants are expected to attend the Josoor Institute in its first full operational year beginning in October 2014, and Georgetown University is working with the Institute to provide an academic framework and endorsement for coursework. In the first quarter of 2014, however, the Institute will host a series of invitation-only short courses.

“I have always believed that the creation of a tangible and meaningful sports industry has to start by addressing the issue of human capital, ensuring that people have the skills they need to make the most of opportunities in the sector. And that, of course, is one of the reasons why the Josoor Institute is so important not only to Qatar and the 2022 World Cup project, but to our entire region,” says Al Thawadi.

“Our guiding principle is set down in Qatar’s Vision 2030 that envisages a future in which Qatar becomes more diverse as we move away from reliance on hydrocarbons to become a knowledge-based economy. Sport fits perfectly into this vision of the future and we want to ensure that we build a skill base and legacy that will fulfil our requirements for 2022 and create an industry for the future.”

Salah bin Ghanim Ali, Qatar’s minister of youth and sport, describes the Institute as an exceptional opportunity for the region.

“It will enhance our ability to host major sporting events and the new knowledge it will create has the power to inspire our young people, providing them with the means to become leaders in their communities and societies,” he adds.

Al Thawadi adds that the Josoor Institute will offer world-class training built on a mixture of top-level academic input coupled with practical experience of events around the world.

“Our ambition is to give people the highest level of experience and understanding of how sport works in different cultures and societies,” he says. “We want to enable people – initially from this region – to learn the sports industry and even those who do not go on to work on the 2022 World Cup will have the opportunity to go back to their own countries and find opportunities there.

“There is a very real demand for the services we will offer and I am delighted that we have been able to create partnerships with [former National Football League commissioner] Paul Tagliabue and Georgetown University, as well as the University of Liverpool and other academic partners and companies from the industry itself.

“When you bring the people of the Middle East together and train them, you are creating a legacy for years to come. The Josoor Institute is a project that is both practical and pragmatic.”

Rick Parry, the first CEO of the English Premier League, and Dan Jones, head of the Sports Business Group at Deloitte, were among the high-level speakers at the Institute’s inaugural outreach programme events in Doha in December.

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