Family entertainment took centre stage as over 3,000 spectators flocked to Aspire Dome to bring down the curtain on the six-month long Qatar Community Football League (QCFL), a grassroots football initiative sponsored by the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) and Aspire Zone Foundation.
More than 500 children attended the final day of the QCFL, some of whom were trainees at the Evolution Football Academy, to enjoy the activity zones, bouncy castles, football target practice, face-painting and, of course, the food stalls.
Ahmed Badawi, father of four-year-old Barcelona fan Omar and an IT professional at the Ministry of Economy and Commerce, welcomed the entertainment offerings: “Football events in Qatar leading up to the World Cup must be turned into family occasions,” said the Egyptian national.
“My son has been enrolled in Evolution since he was two and he had great fun honing his skills at the target practice zone, getting his face painted and taking time off by watching some competitive football played on the pitch. It also helped me spend some quality time with him.”
Sisters Anissa and Fazlia, aged seven and four respectively, focused on the bouncy castles. Their mother Arta Gashi said involvement of women and children will make football more fun and inclusive in nature.
“My daughters and I are not hardcore football lovers, though we do tend to watch a bit of Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo,” she said. “They will now have a greater awareness of football as the game gave them an opportunity to spend quality time with me and with other children of their ages.”
Yunus Sheikh Mohammed, an employee of the SC, attended the event with his wife and three children Asra, eight, Khadeeja, four, and 18-month-old Malik.
The 40-year-old Indian national said: “I have been a football fan for many years, and Maradona and Zidane are my idols. But in the Asian social setup family comes first, and so we prefer to spend time with children rather than watch sport.
“Creating an environment where children can have fun on the sidelines of a football event is a great concept. It helps the family to bond as well as helping football lovers to take in some action.”
Mohammed’s colleague, Michael Richardson, who works as a coach for the SC’s flagship corporate social responsibility programme Generation Amazing, also enjoyed some great family time with two-year-old son Archie and wife Hana.
“Occasions such as this are of great social value as they create a secure atmosphere for people to enjoy the sport along with their families,” he said.
“Enjoyment of the sport is magnified when one is in the company of loved ones in a family gathering which is secure as well as entertaining.”
Six QCFL teams played out the finals day, with Barcadoha, Aspire Utd and Parkhouse all walking home with cup trophies after exciting final games.
The QCFL 2017-18 season will begin again in September, when the league is set to involve even more teams across Qatar and expand the family football feeling within Qatar’s local communities.
Visit Qatar Community Football League’s Facebook page for more details.
By Abilash Nalapat