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Imran Bandeali: Lessons from the Jubilee Games, UAE 2016
Imran Bandeali, Head of Marketing and Admissions at the Aga Khan Academy in Hyderabad was one of the representatives from the Aga Khan Academies at the Jubilee Games held between 22nd–29th July in Dubai, UAE. Here he talks about his experience at the games.
The Jubilee Games are an extension of the Golden Jubilee Games inaugurated in 2008 in Kenya during the commemoration of 50 years of His Highness the Aga Khan’s Imamat and his contribution to global development. This year, the games were an eight-day celebration of sports and fitness that brought together 2,200 athletes from over 20 countries, 2,000 volunteers, and thousands of local and international spectators. The event took place at the end of July at the World Trade Centre in Dubai, and featured 15 types of individual and team competitive sports.
The games were a perfect platform for me to observe diversity in action through the lens of sports and I got the opportunity to interact with athletes from 28 countries. In my role as an Aga Khan Development Network representative, I got an understanding of the athletic and coaching talent we have within the community and how we can utilise this at the Aga Khan Academies to provide near-professional coaching to our students.
I was particularly inspired by the Tajik team. They proved that if you have the passion and interest to do something and if you work hard at it, then nothing can restrict you. Despite not having access to the best facilities they performed exceptionally in all the sports they played.
As an Aga Khan Academy representative at the games, I was able to observe how sports can be used as a vehicle to create and sustain a culture of physical fitness and healthy living. The Academy embodies this philosophy through the diversity of sports we offer, and by enabling our students to regularly participate in inter-school competitions at a local and state level.
The spirit of volunteerism and service behind the organisation of the Jubilee Games was also impressive. Overcoming cultural, social and language barriers, volunteers were able to seamlessly coordinate the entire event which showcased opening and closing ceremonies with cultural performances, a global concert, and a variety of exhibitions. The countless hours put in by all the volunteers combined with their dedication, passion and enthusiasm made the Jubilee Games event a reality. It was wonderful to see volunteers play different roles like administrators, coaches and mentors.
While at the games, I attended a sports symposium where I networked with Ismaili professionals from different countries. It was a unique opportunity to actively contribute and learn from successful executives from around the world.
Present at the event was FCB Escola, who are the official soccer school of FC Barcelona. They are offering top quality training to talented young footballers aged 8–17. It is a flagship programme designed to enhance individual skills and develop players as part of a team. The core objective of the camp, according to the technical director, was to help students learn values of respect, teamwork, humility and ambition. I came back from the games feeling that I had experienced these values first-hand.