April 4, 2018
The International Gold Event (IGE) is a prestigious global leadership forum for Gold Award holders, and occurs every three years, to meet, develop character and leadership skills and provides opportunities to contribute to the development of the Award locally, nationally and internationally. The 2017 topic was “Engaging a younger generation in our sustainable future”.
On the 23rd October I made a 22-hour journey from Perth to Prague for the 50th Anniversary for this week-long event. It was an absolute privilege to be the only female representative from Australia (Perth, Western Australia), joining up to 90 other delegates and Gold Award holders from all over the world. I met the two other Australian delegates Ben (QLD) and Nathan (NSW) and we instantly shared the Aussie sense of humour!
The Event was held at the Hotel International Prague and we were not told details of the programme until we started. Day One, the formalities began with Orientation, the Opening Ceremony and skills development training. We were welcomed by Jiri Zrust, Chairman of the Executive Board in the Czech Republic and we learned what would be expected of the days ahead and that we would need to produce a presentation on how the Award could be implemented in the Czech Republic based on our findings from the upcoming field visits, “Shark Tank” style. We were informed that this was the challenge and there were high expectations, particularly as The Chair of Trustees, His Royal Highness, Prince Edward, The Earl of Wessex would be in attendance. No pressure!
John Amaechi, former English NBA player and Award Patron was a guest speaker at the Opening Ceremony. He shared advice on leadership and the acronym ‘Pay the FEE’ (Focus, Effort and Execution). These would be key to our project presentation and teamwork. He said to all the delegates, “You have the potential to become extraordinary”.
We broke the ice with a fun group activity by having to build a tower using spaghetti and marshmallows. It was a great exercise in teamwork. We then focused on Action Centred Leadership, John Adair’s leadership model, discussed what leadership meant and brainstormed ideas. My group was made up of delegates from Australia, China, Jordan, Slovakia, South Africa and Zambia.
Day Two consisted of more skills development training, focusing on high performing teams. Our group’s topic was “Move Your Body” and we were off to the Sparta Prague Football Club on Day Three to meet with the marketing team. We went on a Letná Stadium tour in the rain and saw a section of the stands with extra tough fencing to prevent antisocial behaviour from violent fans, as well as visiting the VIP areas. In this session, we learned about the history of Sparta and the event logistics of high risk matches, issues of xenophobia, cheering politely, the Sparta Youth Academy and the introduction of professional international players. We were invited to watch a football match.
On Day Four we travelled by tram and bus to Strahov Stadium, the largest stadium in Europe. It was as large as nine soccer fields and could seat over 200,000 people. During the communist era, the stadium was used for group exercise and gymnastics on a large scale. After a tour, the football coaches spoke to us about the training at the Youth Academy. This is where we learned more about how the Award could be integrated in the organisation for our project presentation.
Day Five was a long and intense day which consisted of our group preparing the concept document, PowerPoint presentation and speeches. Day Six was the presentation day at the Emerging Leaders Forum. We were all dressed neatly in our business attire and it was nerve racking to think of all the important people on the panel assessing our project including HRH Prince Edward. We decided to do our presentation as a panel discussion, inspired by the press room at Sparta. We were asked some challenging questions and were pleased when it was over. We had done a great job as a collaborative team and it all came together, so well in fact, that our group was one of three to receive a trophy, as our project could most likely be implemented in the Czech Republic. The Closing Ceremony and formal dinner were held at a beautiful old restored church called Prazska Krizovatka. We were treated to presentations, a performance by a duo of acrobats, a piece of anniversary cake cut by HRH Prince Edward and a Czech band played, so we all danced the night away and had great fun!
The last day, I met up with Ben and Nathan again and we joined a group to walk around the Old Town and along the Charles Bridge, before heading out to the airport. It was somewhat sad to say goodbye to the other delegates and newly formed friends. It was certainly an intense, exhausting, challenging but extremely rewarding week and an experience that will last me a lifetime.