Qatar Olympic Committee’s second vice-president Dr Thani Abdulrahman al-Kuwari, along with former footballer Mubarak Mustafa and former basketball player Hashem Zaidan, were up against the likes of former Qatar basketball captain Yaseen Ismail Musa and former footballer Adel Khamis in an impromptu basketball contest yesterday.
As Musa and Zaidan dunked three-pointers with ease for their respective teams, the other protagonists pitched in with their best with a few two-pointers, their passing game, and an occasional wink and a nod here and there in an attempt to send their opponents the wrong way.
At some point during the game, the six-feet-eight-inch Musa closed in on the basket with al-Kuwari trying his best to defend. And defend he did as al-Kuwari managed to take the ball off him with sounds of approval from those who had gathered around, while the two themselves shared smiles before resuming the game.
From across the basketball court, a young participant was trying hard to set a personal best in long jump, sand and all on his clothes and limbs.
Next door, the volleyball court saw some officials, including QOC Director of Sport and Qatar Swimming Association president Khalil al-Jaber, having a go in yet another impromptu contest.
The table tennis area saw officials including QOC secretary-general Jassim al-Buenain locked in a game.
At the far end, trainers gave demos of take-downs in the wrestling area as young teens got together with a smile for a shot at the sport. There were more demos in the judo area, while makeshift mini golf set-ups had kids trying their best for hole-in-one efforts.
A boxing ring saw kids and adults alike throwing punches at each other, while there were further demonstrations for muay-thai. A few young boxers were even lucky enough to have Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser in the audience.
HE Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, Assistant to Chief of Amiri Diwan and former QOC secretary-general, was in the front leading 100s of participants along with the other officials in a fun run around the lanes of the Downtown Doha. Minutes earlier, it was Team Qatar athlete Mariam Farid who had guided the participants through a warm-up session.
There was nothing official about any of these matches, but the intensity and determination was clear and present. Sport and competition does that to you. Challenges you, pushes you to do better.
First celebrated in 2012, National Sport Day is Qatar’s efforts to push its citizens and residents into a more active lifestyle that helps in human development. To this end, the second Tuesday of February is even a public holiday with the numerous state-of-the-art sports facilities, parks, gardens, etc hosting various sports activities, helping people embrace fit and healthy lifestyles.
Focus on sport has helped push Qatar on to the world map. Besides hosting world-class events, Qatari athletes have earned laurels in the world of sport. Whether it is Mutaz Essa Barshim, who won world championship gold in front of his home crowd last year, or the Qatar national football team that lifted the Asian Cup in the UAE last year.
The likes of Akram Afif and Almoez Ali have wowed the crowds world over with their prowess on the football pitch.
Abderrahman Samba became only the second man after world record-holder Kevin Young to dip under 47 seconds in 400m hurdles. Abdulla al-Tamimi has been among the top squash players in the world.
Barshim was as enthusiastic, if not more, as those who got to run with him or play basketball with him.
“This is amazing. It is a big day and everyone is so happy. To me as a sportsperson, it feels like Eid. And I am happy that everybody got up early in the morning, wearing their sports clothes, and got active, it’s amazing. I was running, cycling, basketball, volleyball, it’s about being active for me. Enjoying every bit of it,” he told Gulf Times yesterday.
Musa echoed the thoughts.
“For me, it is fun. There are people who don’t usually play sport, and then this day gets you interested, you get to inspire people,” the former Al Rayyan player said.
The 39-year-old even got talking about his game with al-Kuwari earlier. “This is probably the third time that he and I played basketball, and he is a fun basketballer. He told me used to play in the US when he was studying there. He has the background, the skill, foundations. We enjoyed... Also there were some footballers too, Mubarak Mustafa, Adel Khamis. When you play against people from other sports, it is always fun,” he said.
Al-Jaber was pleased with the turnout for celebration of sport.
“I would like to thank Msheireb for giving us this place, to be our partners. We are really so happy and be here with all the federations. I am so happy to see a lot of attendance, and seeing them enjoy themselves,” he said. “I played basketball, volleyball and other sports today, and I hope people are feel encouraged to get into sport.”
As for al-Kuwari, a childlike smile was all over him after the basketball game. “Sport Day you have to smile. I won, my team won, that’s great. This victory is for one year. Next Sport Day, I will challenge them again. I hold the trophy for one year,” he said.
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