Al Thumama an ideal choice for Qatar's 2022 generation: Fahad Thani – Gulf Times

By Abilash Nalapat/Doha

A senior official at the Qatar Football Association (QFA) believes Al Thumama Stadium is a perfect fusion of past and future, all of which is perfectly illustrated in its design. Revealed to the world on 20 August the stadium, which will host matches up to the quarter-final of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar, is inspired by local culture and tradition but will be constructed using globally trending industry practices.The area in which it is located was also used by the QFA to host youth development games – with several members of the eventual 2022 national side most likely to have donned their football shirts for the first time within the Al Thumama precinct. And QFA Director of Development Fahad Thani, who also coached Qatar for a brief stint in 2013 including the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, told www.sc.qa that Al Thumama would be an appropriate choice for the 2022 host nation to play one of its group matches. “It will be a nostalgic moment for many connected to Qatar football if the national team were to play in this great World Cup stadium whose wonderful design was unveiled recently by SC,” said Thani.  “Many modern legends of Qatar football, in their youth football days, learnt and developed their skills at Al Thumama. I recall captain Hassan al-Haydous playing for youth team of Al Sadd there. So too Khalfan Ibrahim.”As is the case for al-Haydous, representing their country at the Al Thumama Stadium could roll back the years for a few other potential members of the Qatar national side.Many grassroots events and age-group competitions have been staged there over the years with the most prominent being the QFA Schools League, sponsored by the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), the AFC Grassroots Festival and the youth team fixtures and competitions involving Qatar Star League (QSL) sides.“The current generation of youngsters who came up through at Aspire and who brought glory to the country winning the AFC U-19 title in 2014 also developed their skills training and playing at Al Thumama in age-group club competitions,” Thani continued. “They certainly will be an emotional lot when they take the field for their country in Al Thumama in 2022.”The gahfiya-shaped 40,000-capacity proposed venue of the 2022 FIFA World Cup will rise from the area which housed the QFA Technical Fields and where the governing body’s football development wing was located until a few weeks ago.   The 2022 FIFA World Cup stadium, according to Thani, will be the perfect monument for the edifice built by the QFA’S grassroots and age-group programmes – who claimed the tournament will also act as a catalyst for another generation of young footballers from Qatar.“It will be an event of huge magnitude for Qatar and the Middle East,” he said. “The tournament will encourage more kids to come into the fields and play the game. It feeds perfectly into our vision of broadening the base of the country’s football ecosystem by nurturing the hidden talents of more and more kids.”For Thani, Al Thumama Stadium is also the perfect example of the connection between the elite and grassroots levels within the country, a cornerstone of Qatar’s 2022 bid and one which contributed to the SC’s sponsorship of the QFA Schools League. “My biggest memory from many years of working in Al Thumama is the smiles of children leaving the pitch after a game,” he continued. “It does not matter if they won or lost but they are all happy as they have all learnt something new and enjoyed themselves in the process. “The passion of the kids of Qatar for the game is the platform for us to achieve our vision for Qatar football – becoming one of the top four sides of Asia at all levels. The World Cup will help to harness more of this passion.”

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