The very first Olympic Games held in ancient Greece were not just mere sporting events. Even then - they had enormous social, cultural and economic significance.
It is hardly surprising then that the success of modern sporting events such as the FIFA World Cup or the modern Olympic Games is not just judged by the quality of the sport in the stadium, but by the economic and social legacy left behind.
With the recent London Olympics, Sochi Winter Olympics and the forthcoming Brasil World Cup, the world is looking to events such as the Qatar World Cup to make sure that the employment opportunities that arise are sustainable and have long-term impact.
Itijah is a leadership programme by for emerging leaders. It took place last month in Doha, Qatar and set out to ask whether the impact of legacy events could be improved.
The programme, hosted in Doha by Shell and Silatech, comprised of young leaders from across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. Over the course of the week, the participants were posed with the Challenge -
"For every 10 million Euros invested in legacy events, how can we ensure that 100 direct jobs are generated by and for young people in business and social enterprise?"
In order to help solve the Challenge, participants embarked on study visits to spark ideas and witness innovation first hand. They visited organisations such as Aspire Logistics, the Bedaya Center and the Qatar Football Association - this allowed participants to not only discover the potential in legacy events but also to educate themselves on their pitfalls.
By working on the Challenge with other people from a diverse range of cultures and backgrounds, participants were able to better develop their own potential for leadership, collaboration and innovation.
Fatman Younis, a participant, remarked 'I have learnt a lot from Itijah. I learned how to adapt, adjust and seek change. It opens my eyes, heart and mind to a new world with different perspective. It gave me sense of belonging to the whole world.'
After an intense period of collaboration and learning, the participants presented their ideas to a panel of experts including Sheikha Hanadi bint Nasser Al Thani, founder of Amwal, CEO of Al Waab City Real Estate development project and deputy CEO of Nasser Bin Khaled Al Thani & Sons Group.
The responses to the challenge they developed were fresh, exciting and innovative. And with many participants wishing to take their proposals to sporting bodies in their own countries, we wish them well in the future.