The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games (LOCOG) has announced that International Inspiration, London 2012's international legacy programme, supported by the Youth Sport Trust, has launched in Ethiopia, becoming the 19th country to join the programme.
The launch, attended by the Ethiopian State Minister for Education Fuad Ibrahim and the State Minister for Women, Children and Youth Affairs Almaw Mengist, the British Charge D'Affaires and Haile Gebrselassie, two-time Olympic gold medallist, took place at the British embassy, where an agreement between the Ethiopian and the UK Government was signed to officially launch the programme.
International Inspiration is London 2012's official international sports legacy programme and is bringing to life the promise made by the London 2012 bid team where they pledged to reach young people all around the world and connect them to the inspirational power of the Games so they are inspired to choose sport. The programme is delivered around the world by the British Council, UNICEF UK and UK Sport. In Ethiopia, the programme is funded by a mixture of organisations, including the UK Government's Department for International Development (DFID).
To mark the launch of International Inspiration in Ethiopia, 4,000 Ethiopian children from local schools and youth centres participated in a race in association with the organisers of the Great Ethiopian Run, including 200 who took part in a special International Inspiration race. The celebration was planned and co-ordinated by 15 Young Leaders who have received leadership and life skills trainings and are also involved in the UK-Ethiopia school links that are managed by the British Council.
Myles Wickstead, former British Ambassador to Ethiopia, co-founder of the Great Ethiopia Run and a trustee of the International Inspiration programme, also took part in a race with Haile Gebrselassie to mark the launch.
In Ethiopia International Inspiration will specifically use sport to promote inclusion by reaching girls and marginalised children including those with disabilities and provide leadership training to young people. 15 schools in the UK will also be linked to 15 schools in Ethiopia so that they can share best practice, culture and learning. With the Ethiopian Government's support, International Inspiration will help strengthen the provision of physical education, sport and play in schools and communities.
Seb Coe, Chair of LOCOG said: 'I am thrilled that the International Inspiration programme has officially launched in Ethiopia, especially with the support of the Ethiopian Government and Haile Gebrselassie. Our vision from the outset was to use the power of the Games to inspire change - engaging and inspiring the youth of the world through sport. International Inspiration is that vision and I am delighted that children and young people across Ethiopia will be able to benefit from the programme.'
Haile Gebrselassie added: 'Physical education is one of the most important tools available to schools to help develop young people's leadership skills and give them confidence, irrespective of gender or ability. Communities are brought together through sport and play, be it a game of football in the park or a race to win gold on the world stage, and I'm thrilled that International Inspiration will be working with the Ethiopian Government to ensure schools and communities are engaging young people in physical education, sport and play.'
International Inspiration will work in partnership with the Ethiopian government as well as local organisations and community leaders. The project is supported by a unique partnership of organisations including UK Sport, UNICEF and the British Council.
International Inspiration is delivering on its international legacy promise a year earlier than planned and, having already achieved its vision of reaching 12 million children and young people around the world, will now focus on ensuring the programme is sustainable and will leave a lasting legacy in these countries after the final year of the programme in 2014.