The streets of Bangkok came alive to the sights and sounds of sport as the inaugural SportAccord Thailand Sports Festival entertained a packed Centara World Square.
It is the first time SportAccord has featured a Festival, taking the delegates onto the streets of Bangkok whilst at the same time engaging the local Thai people. The theme of the Festival was United Through Sport, and its mission is to make a tangible difference to the lives of children in displaced communities.
Incorporating 58 different Olympic and non-Olympic federations, the Festival is a celebration of sport as well as culture. At the Opening Ceremony, children from all over Thailand came to perform, including those from displaced families. More than 100 children participated in the hour-long opening ceremony, and performances included songs from a displaced children’s choir, cheerleading and gymnastics squads and a traditional muay buran presentation.
The driving force behind the SportAccord Thailand Sports Festival is Alliance of Internationally recognised Member Sports (AIMS) President Stephan Fox, who believes that sport can and should be used to change lives.
“Ultimately, my aim is to make this world a better place,” Fox said. “To do this we must all be united in the sports movement to ensure that the base of the pyramid – the grassroots participants worldwide – have equal opportunities to practice sports”.
“We want to give this group hope and a voice. That is what United Through Sport is all about. I hope that this Festival is just the start for SportAccord’s involvement, and that we can continue this initiative each and every year.”
As part of the Festival, Mr Fox, who is also GAISF Vice-President, has also launched the “Do Good Feel Good” programme in place around juvenile centres in Bangkok. A group of teenagers from the centres have been invited to take part in the Festival, and they spent the day training and learning from former Thai Olympic champions.
“This is a fantastic, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for these kids,” Fox said of the programme. “It is my hope that they will go home forever changed, and act as role models for the next generation.”
All donations made from SportAccord delegates to the United Through Sport initiative will go directly to the displaced communities, funding sporting equipment for children to socialise and learn vital life skills.
AIMS has partnered with charity SportAbility for the United Through Sport campaign, and SportAbility CEO Julia Govinden praised the willingness of GAISF, AIMS and SportAccord to use sport for worldwide development.
“This festival is about using the platform that sport has to highlight the issues in our society and raising money to combat those issues,” Govinden said. “It is important that we work together so that we can make a real difference to displaced families all over the world.”
The SportAccord Thailand Sports Festival offers sports demonstrations and opportunities for all to try new activities throughout each day. Following the conclusion of SportAccord, sporting equipment will be driven down to the displaced regions and enjoyed by thousands of children.
GAISF values the ability of sport to contribute to positive change in communities. By working alongside AIMS and SportAbility, GAISF is confident that the United Through Sport initiative can have a valuable and long-lasting impact, not just in Thailand but across the world.