SC’s community-based initiative in partnership with QF and FIFA
It was an once-in-lifetime opportunity for more than 100 -odd students drawn from eight countries, who congregated at Qatar Foundation’s Oxygen Park, last week – to play football with and be mentored by some of football’s greatest legends.
Santiago Solari, Julio Cesar, Yaya Toure, Bebeto, Kristine Lilly, Xavi Hernandez, Youri Djorkaeff, and Marcos Evangelista de Morais, more popularly known as Cafu, played against a group selected from the young participants, in a Legend’s Game organized by Generation Amazing (GA) – a CSR program launched by the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC) – in partnership with Qatar Foundation and FIFA Foundation, on the afternoon of Thursday the 19th.
The friendly match was part of Generation Amazing’s (GA) inaugural youth football festival, the first in a series of similar festivals that will be held in the run up to Qatar hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2022.
The game was followed by a medal ceremony, where prizes were awarded to the various participating youth teams, including a special prize for team effort handed over by Mrs. Machaille Al Naimi, President, Qatar Foundation’s Community Development.
The festival’s theme focused on social inclusion and cohesion, and gender equality. True to GA’s commitment to ensure that all projects operate at a 50-50 split of male and female participants, the events held at QF’s Oxygen Park were mixed gender too.
Kristine Lilly, who participated in the Legends Game on Thursday, the 19th, observed how if one had dedication and commitment, one could scale any heights – irrespective of one’s gender.
“Whatever you do, you have to work hard,” said the most capped player in the history of both men and women’s football.
“As women we may have to work harder, as we’re also trying to break barriers and to change mindsets. But if you’re really passionate about something and you want to make a difference in not just your life, but also in the lives of people – especially girls and women – around you, you automatically reach out to those who share your vision. You work with them to make your dream happen.
“Don’t every stop,” she added. “Don’t take ‘no’ for answer. Keep going and going – because what you do is going to change lives.”
I’ve had a great career, and it’s all been due to the support I received from the community I grew up in, and such events give me a chance to share my experience with these youngsters
Earlier, on Tuesday the 17th, Oxygen Park was also the venue where GA participants interacted with former football players and SC Ambassadors Adel Khamis (Qatar), Wael Gomaa (Egypt), Younis Mahmood (Iraq) and SC’s VIP sports guests Tim Cahill from Australia and Honey Thalijeh from Palestine.
Tim Cahill – one of Australia’s most celebrated football players – noted how the event gave opportunities for players to give back to the community.
“I’ve had a great career, and it’s all been due to the support I received from the community I grew up in,” he said. “Such events give me a chance to share my experience with these youngsters. I was able to emphasize to these youngsters the importance of never letting go of what they believe in, no matter what obstacles they face.”
Aside from Oxygen Park, and as a partner of the festival, QF offered additional facilities – including Multaqa (Student Center) – for the participants who came from Qatar, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Philippines, Oman, Jordan and Lebanon.
In order to reach the level of being able to play professional football, we need to support such talent from the beginning, especially for kids.
Younis Mahmood, a former professional football player from Iraq, talked about the need for universities and schools to invest in sport infrastructure.
“In order to reach the level of being able to play professional football, we need to support such talent from the beginning, especially for kids,” Mahmood noted. “Children, by nature, are already connected to football, and proper mentoring will help improve that connection.
“Additionally, I feel that football will help channel their energy to activities that have a positive outcome. This is why schools and universities need to invest in sport facilities, especially for football. And that is also why sport is now an essential part of school curricula.”
Generation Amazing was part of Qatar’s initial bid for the FIFA World Cup which, having won the right to host it, was extended to run until the end of the tournament in 2022. It has since seen 28 pitches built around the world, using them as a hub for inspiring social development.