IT’S an oft-repeated excuse that the talent pool in Qatar is shallow across all sports. I’ve been hearing it for many years now. Compared to other countries we’ve a small population. But then, is the size of a nation’s population a benchmark for success? I don’t think so.
Iceland have only a little more than 300,000 people and we saw their exploits at Euro 2016! On the other hand, there’re many examples of highly-populated countries not doing so well either. I think what’s paramount is the way we nurture the talent at our disposal.
In one of my columns, more than four years ago (Doha Stadium Plus, August 22, 2012), I had called for measures to seriously activate sports at the university level. I wrote that we should develop schemes to provide youngsters, who join universities, with a platform to simultaneously pursue studies and sports, citing examples of universities in the US and UK which offered scholarships to outstanding sportspersons.
Better be late than never! I’m happy to say that my humble views were vindicated by the turn of events last Monday when the Qatar University signed two agreements, giving a major lift to sports and education.
The first one, in partnership with the Qatar Football Association, Aspire Zone Foundation and Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, is aimed at supporting and developing talented sportspersons. Establishing an ideal academic programme for them is also part of the plan.
The main objective of the second, in association with Qatar’s specialised orthopaedic and sports medicine hospital Aspetar, is to start an undergraduate Sports and Exercise Medicine curriculum for students, with an eye on promoting human capacity in Qatar.
I’m sure, if flawlessly implemented, these agreements can contribute in a big way towards developing a future generation of sportsmen and women who can keep the Qatari flag flying high at international arenas. The offer of academic and financial support, by way of scholarships, should see more youngsters coming forward to pursue sports seriously and also simultaneously seeking academic excellence at universities.
By ensuring some degree of stability to the youngsters’ future, the stakeholders have also succeeded in removing certain apprehensions from the minds of parents who always had the discomforting thought that taking up sports at the expense of studies isn’t an ideal proposition.
While congratulating the people behind this initiative, I wish it’ll have a positive impact on the country’s sport sector.