As the ball bounced off a defender in the penalty box and almost found its way to the back of the net, the 5,500-strong crowd at Gharafa Sports Club in Doha roared as if the first goal had already been scored.
Watching on from the stands as Gulf Contracting Company beat ETA Star 3-0 was John, a 28-year-old defensive midfielder from Kenya who had just minutes earlier paraded in with his team at the opening ceremony of the third annual Workers Cup football tournament, which began in Doha this weekend.
HBK Contracting Company is one of four of the participating 16 teams which are working on projects of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), which is sponsoring the tournament again this year.
[quote_box_center]“This is what I like most; I like challenges and I like the competition. Next year I will know where to improve. This is my first tournament, and the first time I will play in this big stadium. This year we have a great team and we are aiming to reach the final; since we have good players I hope we can make it,”[/quote_box_center] John said of the tournament.
[quote_box_center]“We select our players in training according to their talent, we want to win as one family, as HBK. We work on different sites, and we come together three or four times a week to train so that we can get ready to put on our best performance in this tournament. God willing, I will also be here to watch the FIFA World Cup in Qatar in 2022, to see the whole tournament and attend my first World Cup,”[/quote_box_center] the midfielder added with a radiant smile, which even his side’s opening day 3-0 defeat against Amana Contracting could not diminish.
For all 16 teams who took part in Friday’s opening ceremony following the Qatar Stars League (QSL) match between Gharafa and Al Khor, there were also customised shirts which were handed over to the team captains.
[quote_box_center]“I would like to welcome all the gathered teams of the 2015 Workers Cup, and to wish them good luck for the tournament,” said Nasser Al Khater, SC Executive Director Communications and Marketing. “It is a great pleasure to be here with my colleagues from the QSL, who are organising this fantastic tournament for a third successive year. Last year we saw a memorable finale at Aspire Dome, in front of a sell-out crowd, and I am sure all of the teams here today will be competing to make the final this year. The Supreme Committee is proud to be sponsoring this tournament, which is an important part of Qatar’s sporting fabric, and plays a vital role in integrating communities into our sports vision.” [/quote_box_center]
Hani Ballan, CEO of the QSL, also pointed out that workers form an [quote_box_center]“integral part of Qatar’s community”, and added that the QSL was looking to create further events and associated entertainment opportunities: “We have seen an increased demand from companies and will look to increase the size of the tournament next year.” [/quote_box_center]
Also on hand after his side’s 3-1 QSL victory over Al Khor was former Australia international Mark Bresciano, who recently capped a remarkable international career in style with the AFC Asian Cup triumph on home soil.
[quote_box_center]“I think it’s a very good idea,” Bresciano said of the Workers Cup. “It is good to see that the construction companies have thought of their workers, because playing any sport is healthy and something to look forward to on the weekends. To see that it is happening for the third successive year shows that it has been successful, and I am happy to be part of the club that supports it.”[/quote_box_center]
Bresciano added: [quote_box_center]“It is something worthwhile and something that other companies should consider also. It has big potential to grow, one because I have seen football grow in this country, and two because everyone knows that in 2022 they will host the World Cup, so I think there will be a lot of vibe around the sport.” [/quote_box_center]
Also present at the opening ceremony were His Excellency Mr. Abdulaziz Saba, the Ambassador of Algeria to the State of Qatar, and His Excellency Mr. Eric Chevallier, the Ambassador of France to the State of Qatar.