- Michael Owen helped kick off first Generation Amazing Festival
- Former England star took part in a Q&A with the participants
- Programme aims to promote social inclusion and development through football
FIFA Legend Michael Owen dropped in to help inspire young people from across the world as the first Generation Amazing Festival kicked off in Qatar.
The former England and Liverpool star was on hand to take questions from the participants – many representing projects the programme has impacted around the globe since its inception in 2010. He also reinforced the importance of the activities they were taking part in, which were aimed at building teamwork and personal development through football and other physical games.
“There’s so many different skills you can take out of football and put into everyday life,” Owen told FIFA.com afterwards. “There’s no better tool to make good of certain aspects of the world than football. It brings everybody together and it’s great that people are using it for positive change.
“The more days like this you get exposed to, the more you realise what a brilliant game we’re involved in.”
With its commitment to promoting social inclusion and cohesion, gender equality is one of Generation Amazing's key aims. All of its projects operate at a 50-50 split of male and female participants and the day's events were mixed gender throughout.
And with the participants looking to take the skills they are learning out into the wider world, getting reinforcement from a figure like Owen has big benefits, according to Nasser Al Khori, Generation Amazing Programme Director.
“We were delighted to have FIFA Legend Michael Owen joining us for an inspiring session today at the Generation Amazing Festival 2019. The youth were motivated by his story and presence to continue their football for good journey and inspire social change in their communities through the Generation Amazing programme.”
Operating in eight countries at present – Qatar, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Philippines, Oman, Jordan and Lebanon – its reach is set to expand into both Haiti and Rwanda. Generation Amazing was part of Qatar’s initial bid for the FIFA World Cup™ which, having won the right to host it, was extended to run until the end of the tournament in 2022. It has since seen 28 pitches built around the world, using them as a hub for inspiring social development.
“I, like probably most other footballers, am guilty of having a one-track mind at the World Cup – how are we going win the next game, how are we going to win the tournament,” Owen reflected. “You forget the positive effects it has on so many people.”