The SportAccord Convention organisers dub it as the place ‘Where Sport Meets’! I didn’t realise how accurate that was until I joined it for the first time at SAC2014 at the Susesi Convention Centre at Belek in Antalya province in Turkey earlier this month.
The SportAccord Convention is an annual six-day gathering of over 2500 leading representatives from international sport. It encompasses the Congress and General Assemblies of three associations whose members consist of 108 International Sports Federations and associate members.
Zaun was there to push our range of sports solutions and event overlay to the organisers of the major spectaculars that are a part of the global sporting calendar.
We pulled together a sports-specific brochure for the event. We filled our stand with our award-winning counter-terror perimeter protection systems proven at the 2012 London Olympics and autumn political conferences for the major parties. They include ArmaWeave, HiSec, HiSec Super and DualGuard, and the award-winning Rapid Deployable System and MultiFence.
Star-struck doesn’t begin to describe the feeling of bumping into Lord Coe (he’ll always be ‘Seb’ to me) one moment, followed by former 800m world record holder Wilson Kipketer and Jackie Joyner-Kersee, winner of 6 Olympic medals in the 80s, including three Golds.
More significantly, for Zaun, we met anyone who was anyone looking to stage major sporting events in the coming decade and beyond as the convention was crammed full of high profile specifiers and buyers of temporary event overlay, as it’s called in the business.
Closest to home and most imminent, we checked in on the team from Glasgow 2014, who are staging the Commonwealth Games this summer. They were part of the Event Scotland delegation, pitching Scotland as ‘The Perfect Stage’, which also brought us face to face with the team organising the Gleneagles Ryder Cup at the end of September.
Also, there were the organisers of the next Commonwealth Games in Queensland, Gold Coast 2018; the IAAF, with their vision for the future of world athletics; the people behind the United Arab Emirates’ bid to stage the first Olympic Games in the Middle East; and the team taking a battering from UK and Western media from the same neck of the woods, the Qatar 2022 World Cup organisers.
But it’s easy to forget how many people play and support other sports and events away from the most high profile spectaculars – as we learned when we found ourselves sharing a platform with Azad Rahimov, Minister of Youth and Sport and chief exec of the first-ever European Games, which will take place next June in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan.
You may not have even heard about it, but more than 5000 athletes from the 49 Olympic nations across Europe are expected to participate in 19 sports in the inaugural Games and every four years thereafter.
So SAC proved for me that sport unites: whatever your creed, colour, religion or race (excuse the pun!). It was a well-organised friendly gathering with fabulous people and a great atmosphere, even if the venue fell a little bit short. And it forced us to be proactive in putting ourselves about.
We’ll definitely be there at SAC2015, wherever it may be! Perhaps we’ll see you there.