Qatar Cycling Federation’s (QCF) new president Dr Mohammad Jeham Al Kuwari is a surgeon by profession. He is an avid rider as well and spends his leisure time biking along with youngsters at the Losail International Circuit.
The 36-year-old believes the sport has a bright future in Qatar and wants to make it popular.
In an exclusive interview with Doha Stadium Plus, Dr Al Kuwari spoke about launching a club-based league competition and his other goals.
What’re your goals as new president of the QCF?
My first target will be to improve the infrastructure. Cycling has the potential to grow bigger in the country. I want to make it compete with football in terms of popularity. I’m confident.
How do you think you can achieve this?
Cycling is very contagious. More and more people are taking up the sport. When I go to training at Losail, I observe the sharp rise in the number. I see new faces from different age groups every day. It can become a popular sport in the future.
We’ll create more local clubs which can compete in a local league. We’ve the Royal Air Maroc League, which we’ll make bigger. The races will be held in the Doha city and not in the outskirts. We’ve already kick-started our journey with the Doha Triathlon last week.
How many clubs will join the league?
We want to establish good relations with all clubs before we launch a Qatar League. At present, we’ve just recreational teams. We want to send invites to Al Sadd, El Jaish, Lekhwiya and others to participate.
Our federation has a good relationship with Jaish and Lekhwiya, who’ve many triathlon athletes actively taking part in several competitions. We’ll provide them with the expertise to build a good team.
The Tour of Qatar and Zubarah were cancelled earlier this month. How much has it affected the QCF?
I wasn’t happy with it because the cycling community was waiting for these events.
Has the Tour of Qatar been scrapped for good?
We don’t know if the decision is a temporary or permanent one. I hope we’ll have them in future. We can’t comment on it at this stage, but we’ll focus on local events as advised by Qatar Olympic Committee President HE Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad Al Thani. The local competitions will strengthen the sport and produce future champions, and the best time to start is now because of the huge interest.
QCF’s outgoing president Sheikh Khalid bin Ali Al Thani left a legacy behind. How do you want to carry it forward?
Sheikh Khalid was QCF’s founding father. When he became the president in 2001, he had to really work hard to popularise the sport. Under his leadership, the QCF started the Tour of Qatar for men and women. Last year’s World Championships was his biggest achievement.
I’ve the big responsibility to carry his legacy forward but, as I said, my interest will be to strengthen the sport at the local level.
How’ll you motivate the Qatari riders?
It’s a big challenge. I was raised in this culture where parents push their kids to studies. It’s definitely a big problem to attract Qatari youth to any sports for that matter.
But the success story of our countryman Ibrahim Al Rumaihi, who competed at last year’s Ironman Triathlon in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, should motivate youngsters. We need more role models like Al Rumaihi.