Sport: The Every-day Enabler of Extraordinary Things, CGF President Tells CHOGM Leaders

The Commonwealth sporting movement will play a key role in engaging and inspiring the next generation of Commonwealth citizens, its president pledged today. Addressing senior government and civic leaders at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Malta (Sunday, November 29) recently-elected Commonwealth Games Federation President, Louise Martin, shared the movement’s ambitions for transformational change – and an impact that reaches far beyond the Commonwealth Games spectacle. She urged Commonwealth leaders to support their Games Associations, sports leaders and athletes and put them at the vanguard of making Commonwealth goals a reality for citizens and communities.

Welcoming guests to a leaders’ Sports Breakfast, Prime Minister of Malta, the Honourable Joseph Muscat, said that celebrating the positive power of Commonwealth sport was the perfect way to bring the CHOGM programme to a close. The event was attended by a packed audience of senior government and civic leaders from across the Commonwealth, including the Commonwealth Secretary General, His Excellency Kamalesh Sharma.

Commonwealth Secretary General, His Excellency Kamalesh Sharma said:

“Sport is one of our most cherished and visible Commonwealth traditions. More than that, sport can make vital contributions to inclusive social progress. The theme for this 2015 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting speaks of the Commonwealth Adding Global Value.

“Sport for Development and Peace is central in our work to advance respect and understanding. Innovative approaches such as this to inspire our youth are needed more than ever, with the challenges and tragedies we face in the world today.

“The Commonwealth Games Federation, the Commonwealth Secretariat, and organisations in our wider Commonwealth family are able to draw on immense goodwill and tremendous energy as we carry this work forward in partnership.”

CGF President Louise Martin told CHOGM leaders that the Commonwealth Sporting movement was committed to delivering ‘Transformation 2022’ a new strategic approach – overwhelmingly adopted by members at the CGF General Assembly in Auckland in September – and which marks a historic change in the movement’s focus from the four-year cycle of hosting Commonwealth Games to a wider role of delivering sports leadership within the Commonwealth, based on partnership, engagement and value generation.

The plan prioritises delivery across four key areas: Innovative and Inspirational Games; 
Good Governance and Management, Strong Partnerships and developing Commonwealth Sport as a strong valued brand.

Addressing delegates, CGF President Louise Martin, CBE said:

“The Commonwealth Games is a great sporting spectacle which creates an extra-special magic when it combines passion, professionalism and warmth in a city that embraces the opportunity.

Sport can be an every-day enabler of remarkable things and beyond the spectacle of great games, our obligation at the CGF is to make the most of the truly impactful opportunities for empowerment and transformational change.”

The CGF President also announced that the Bahamas has formally expressed interest to host the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games, with Northern Ireland keen to host the event in 2021. Established in 2000 in Edinburgh, Scotland, the Youth Games has become an increasingly important and relevant part of the Commonwealth sporting movement’s strategic engagement with young athletes emerging onto the global sport scene. The Games has provided an important springboard for many future stars. Commonwealth Games, Olympic, Paralympic and World Championship legends such as Kirani James, Jessica Ennis-Hill, Chad le Clos and Caster Semenya all experienced the early thrill of representing their home nations and territories as teenage competitors at previous Youth Games.

Louise Martin, CGF President, added:

“The Commonwealth Youth Games is an incredibly vital way that we can share the connective and life-changing experience of a Commonwealth united in its diversity with a new generation of athletes and citizens. As Samoa has just shown, hosting such a inspirational international sporting occasion like the Youth Games, empowers even the smallest nations to have a profound and distinctive impact – not just on their own young people or their own communities – but on a global scale.

“The CGF team looks forward to working with our friends and colleagues in both the Bahamas and Northern Ireland as we undertake the evaluation process to understand how we can collaborate with them through the unifying power of sport, helping to write positive new chapters in their own stories.”

Other contributors taking part in the event include Dr Lachlan Strahan, Australia’s senior representative to the Commonwealth – Gold Coast, Australia will host the 2018 Commonwealth Games – and Team Malta athlete Rebecca Camillieri, a multi-medal winning long jumper and sprinter who has represented Malta at the Delhi 2010 and Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.