A delegation of nine World Leisure Organization (WLO) leaders visited the United States Sports Academy as part of its preparations for the 2014 international gathering in Mobile, Ala.—the first ever U.S. city to host the conference.

The Academy was instrumental in bringing the pending WLO conference to Mobile, which will be the largest conference ever staged in the city with as many as 4,000 participants from nearly 100 countries expected to attend.

A World Leisure Organization delegation visited the Academy campus July 13. Pictured from left to right in the front row are: Chris Edginton, WLO Secretary General, Abubakarr Jalloh, Erwei Dong, a University of South Alabama assistant professor and Iradge Ahrabi-Fard. In the back row are: Bin Ruan, Ming-kai Chin, Derek Casey, WLO Board chairman. Maliga Naidoo and Tim Richardson of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.

Academy Vice President Dr. T.J. Rosandich, who sits on the 2014 Mobile Bay World Leisure Congress committee, says the visit and luncheon held July 13 at the Academy was a productive one. In addition, Academy and WLO leaders discussed ways and means by which both organizations could work together academically.

“They are in the preparation phase and touring all the sites affiliated with their program,” he said. “We are happy to play a role in their coming here and look forward to helping them stage one of the most successful conferences yet.”

In addition during the WLO’s visit, Hall of Fame baseball player Hank Aaron, who is from Mobile, was named as the honorary chairman for the conference in September 2014.

The Arthur R. Outlaw Mobile Convention Center and the University of South Alabama campus are scheduled to host the group’s sessions, exhibits and training sessions. Attendees will also be treated to numerous excursions and activities throughout the surrounding area. The weeklong convention is expected by the Mobile Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau to conservatively produce an economic impact of about $20 million.

The WLO has said that Mobile was selected for the convention in part because of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010, which crippled tourism along the Gulf Coast. The group seeks host cities with strong potential for leisure development that would also benefit economically from the event itself.

“Whether it is community gardens or improved access to sports and other leisure activities, we want to plant the seeds to help the Mobile area grow into an even healthier international success story,” said Mike Dow, chairman of the 2014 Mobile Bay World Leisure Congress.

Formed in 1952 and based in Iowa, the World Leisure Organization is a world-wide, non-governmental association of persons and organizations dedicated to discovering and fostering those conditions best permitting leisure to serve as a force for human growth, development and well-being. The organization believes that meaningful leisure experiences are “no less than the need for shelter, education, employment and fundamental healthcare.”