November 22 - International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Aïcha Garad Ali of Djibouti has today been appointed as a World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) Council member here in a move designed to promote gender equality and youth development.
The announcement was made today at the governing body's Council meeting to coincide with the third World Para-Taekwondo Championships and the 2012 World Cup Team Championships.
"I am very excited to be part of the taekwondo family and to be able to contribute my experience in the Olympic Movement, particularly as an African woman, said Aïcha Garad Ali, who is also the President of the National Olympic Committee of Djibouti.
"I have already been working towards the set-up of the official national taekwondo association in Djibouti.
"Taekwondo activities have been going on for years in East Africa and I want to expand further and develop the sport in this important part of the world.
"Taekwondo is now the second most popular sport in Africa, after football; it is a powerful vehicle for social development."
With just four of its 34 members being female, a main objective of WTF is to gain more female presence on their team to help promote the role of women and young people in sport.
"When we are looking to elect a new council member we are looking for a number of qualities, WTF secruatry general, Jean-Marie Ayer told insidethegames.
"I think Aicha being an IOC member is just one of her qualities, as there are so many more aspects of her which we appreciate and believe will contribute to the development of our sport.
"For us at the moment the focus is to develop the sport and focus on gender equality and to make sure everyone has the same opportunities.
"As we move forward we wish to gain more female members but with that we want to make sure they are given the right responsibilities and have the confidence to perform."
WTF President, Chungwon Choue expressed his enthusiasm of his newest council member and what this will bring to the evolving federation.
"She will be an instrumental member of the Council, offering knowledge from her extensive experience in sporting commissions and the Olympic Movement," he said.
"Aïcha's passion for youth and education was one of the fundamental reasons for her appointment – we are thrilled to have another member so enthusiastic about this area of development.
"It is also always important for the council to reflect the universal nature of taekwondo – which appeals equally to men and women in all five Olympic continents."
Aicha Garad Ali, who was elected the IOC in July this year linked to her role as Djibouti National Olympic Committee President, will no doubt be a boost for the WTF's quest to become more global and shake off reputations of being a one region dominated sport.
Her sports grounding career includes serving as former coach of the Djibouti national handball team as well as vice-president of the Djibouti Handball Federation.
The WTF Council is made up of 34 members, comprising of one President, one treasurer, one secretary general and six vice-presidents.
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