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Oman Sail's SailFree programme shortlisted for Best Sports Event CSR Initiative

by Oman Sail 3 May 2023 07:27 BST
Oman Sail's SailFree programme © Oman Sail

Oman Sail's SailFree programme has been nominated as a finalist in the Best Sports Event CSR Initiative category at the prestigious Middle East Sports Industry Awards 2023 (SPIA). Delivered in partnership with bp Oman and the Oman Paralympic Association, SailFree was launched in 2019 as the first sailing programme for persons with disabilities in the region and has made incredible progress in its mission to introduce Omanis with disabilities to the sport.

In 2022, the squad celebrated its first ever medal after winning gold at the RS Venture Connect World Championships hosted at the Barceló Mussanah Resort - the largest event of its kind in the entire year and the first exclusively Para Sailing event to be held in Oman. SailFree has provided the framework for those with zero sailing experience to compete internationally, with members of the programme competing at regattas in Belgium, France and the United Kingdom during the last year, and equipped coaches with the skills to train people with disabilities using the highly-adaptable RS Venture Connect dinghy to ensure sailing is a sport for all.

The programme has also shown the potential for sailing to change lives, foster a newfound sense of freedom and unlock valuable life skills through learning, teamwork and participation. Ten para sailors from SailFree also volunteers at the World Athletics Race Walking Team Championships, held in Muscat.

Khamis Al Anbouri, SailFree programme manager, said, "Being shortlisted for this award is an incredible achievement for SailFree and acknowledgement of the wide-reaching impact the programme has had. The progress the team has made since the initiative launched is remarkable and has been the spark to develop Oman as a hub for Para Sailing within the region and further afield, as shown by the international representation at the RS Venture Connect World Championship. We are proud to pioneer sailing as an inclusive sport in the region and provide a positive example for others to follow as we move towards an inclusive society where opportunities are available for all."

The driving factors behind SailFree are linked to 10 of the 12 National Priorities outlined in Oman Vision 2040. SailFree's activities promote education, learning and research, as well as developing national capabilities, improving health and wellbeing, and national identity within participants. In the community, SailFree has a strong environmental message and members of the programme take an active role in Oman Sail's overarching mission to preserve the country's beaches and oceans, while also encouraging leadership, cooperation and sustainable development for the long-term prosperity of the nation.

SailFree's success will be felt across the international sailing community in the coming months as four therapists from the Al Amal Occupational Therapy & Rehab Centre at the Armed Forces Hospital passed the national classifier final assessment in November 2022 and are now one step away from becoming International Classifiers. There are currently just 11 international classifiers worldwide, meaning Oman's contribution will be significant for para sailing globally.

Oman Sail won both 'Best Sports Event Organiser of the Year' and 'Best Sports Event of the Year' at the SPIA Awards following an exceptional year in 2021. In recognition of a landmark year for the company, Oman Sail harnessed over a decade of international event management experience to deliver nine major sailing events and set a new Guinness World Records™ in the process.

Organised by Sport 360X, the SPIA Awards recognise the achievements of the sporting industry across the Middle East in 18 categories. The winners will be announced at a gala awards ceremony on 3 May 2023 at the Atlantis, The Palm, in Dubai. For more information, please visit spiame.com.

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