Festival Day Marks Culmination of Week-Long ‘Respect 4 All’ Training Programme

The World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) collaborated with the LFC Foundation, the official charity of Liverpool Football Club (LFC), to host a week-long football training course that addressed effective ways for people working in sports to engage with children who have autism, or sensory or physical impairments.

The training programme, titled ‘Respect 4 All Qatar’ took place in Education City recently and focused on giving sports coaches targeted practical training in helping children with autism reach their potential, socialise, and pursue a healthy lifestyle through participation in football-related activities.

The course included both classroom sessions and practical outdoor workshops, with coaches working directly with local children with autism. The sessions discussed topics such as the evolution of working practices and language, how people with additional needs engage in sport, and best practice.

The training culminated in a festival day that brought together the participating coaches and children for a range of fun activities. Alongside coaches from LFC Foundation, the day was also attended by Machaille Al-Naimi, QF President of Community Development, and Greg Gomis, goalkeeper from Al-Sailiya Sports Club, a Qatar Stars League football club. Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar also supplied a juice kiosk and bicycles as part of its ‘Sahtak Awalan’ healthy living initiative.

The new programme is a follow up of a workshop held in May 2017 organised by WISH in collaboration with the LFC Foundation community coaches. Representatives from a variety of local government, health, and educational organisations were briefed then on the skills required to set up successful training programmes for children with autism.

WISH - LFC Foundation

Among those taking part in the workshop and subsequent training programme were Awsaj Academy, Qatar Autism Families Association, Primary Health Care Corporation, Shafallah Center for Children with Special Needs, Evolution Sports Qatar, the Ministry of Interior – Police Sports Federation, the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, Qatar Foundation Recreation Services, Qatar Paralympic Committee, Renad  Academy, and Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Sports Academy.

Andrea Cooper, Head of LFC Foundation, said they are delighted to collaborate with WISH.

Our coaching team is highly experienced in delivering specialist sports sessions that promote inclusion and well-being and achieve our goal of creating life-changing opportunities for children and young people in Liverpool and beyond. I would like to thank WISH for welcoming the LFC Foundation to Qatar, and I hope that all the participants had a positive and fun experience.’

Sultana Afdhal, Acting Chief Executive Officer of WISH, who brought LFC Foundation’s ‘Respect 4 All’ programme to Qatar, said that seeing the local coaches benefiting from the expertise, professionalism, and warmth of the LFC Foundation team is extremely rewarding.

WISH is delighted to have had the opportunity to bring the LFC Foundation team to Qatar and to work with them to deliver a programme that we hope will have a positive impact on the health and well-being of children with disabilities within our local community for many years to come.’

Since its inception in 2013, children’s health has been a core research area for WISH. It has worked with global healthcare experts to create two evidence-based reports: ‘Mental Health and Well-being in Children’ and ‘Autism: A Global Framework for Action’.

WISH, an initiative of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, has also made it a priority to highlight innovations that expand access to effective mental health treatment and care for people with autism. The collaboration with LFC Foundation collaboration is in line with WISH’s commitment to establish a sustainable programme that supports Qatar’s National Mental Health Strategy, ‘Changing Minds, Changing Lives 2013-2018’.

Children with special needs engage in indoor and outdoor football games with LFC Foundation coaches and Qatar-based sports trainers.
Children with special needs engage in indoor and outdoor football games with LFC Foundation coaches and Qatar-based sports trainers.

For more information, visit the WISH website at wish-qatar.org.