Qatar, currently is a great manifestation of the FIFA slogan ‘Football unites the World’- truly and literally. The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 has brought together families, friends and acquaintances with tens of thousands visiting the country.
These include former residents who have been away from their families and friends. For Anoop John Alocious, it was a sweet homecoming as he was away from his parents for almost three years. Born and brought up in Qatar, he is currently based in Melbourne as he completed his study and started working there. Since he had left for Australia sometime before the Covid-19 pandemic, this was his longest stint away from his family.
Anoop, a football enthusiast right from his early childhood, told Gulf Times: “ I had been away from my parents for such a long time for the first time in my life. After I completed my graduation, I got place in a firm and started working there. It was not possible for me to get leave from the firm. Then I decided that come what may - I must be in Qatar by the time the World Cup starts.”
Having arrived in Qatar in the last week of November, Anoop plans to return immediately after the World Cup. He has already watched several matches and plans to attend many more. It was a much-awaited reunion for him and his parents who are working in Qatar Energy and Hamad Medical Corporation.
For Ravi Jose Thanickal, another former resident of Qatar, it is a dream come true. Thanickal, who had worked in Qatar for more than 10 years, left the country in 2010.
Thanickal, a football fanatic and a die-hard Argentine fan, feels grateful to Qatar for realising his dream of attending World Cup matches in person. “If it was not in Qatar it would have been very difficult for me to attend these many matches. I could also watch my favourite team as well as Lionel Messi playing in front of me. These are some of my great moments and something that I will cherish forever,” he said.
Thanickal, with his political, social and family connections, has a large number of friends in Doha and it is also a time for him to meet and greet many of them and renew the ties. “I have already informed my company back in India that I would be back only after conclusion of the tournament. I want to meet all my friends and family members. I don’t want to miss this golden opportunity and want to relish each and every moment with the hope that Argentina will lift the cup in this edition,” he noted.
Biju John, general manager at the Mediterranean Shipping Company, is another ardent football fan and during this World Cup he is hosting a number of his friends and neighbours from his village in India.
“ It is a great occasion to look back into my past as I started watching World Cup on television in 1986. So the journey that started some 36 years back is completing a full cycle in Doha with the action happening with my presence for several matches. I could also bring several of my friends and family members here through ‘Host a Fan’ platform and it is a great feeling and emotional fulfillment,” said John.
He also noted that the World Cup and related activities has rekindled his passion for writing and he has started penning some football experiences through social media platforms.
Social media is abuzz with several stories of such reunions and renewal of friendship during this World Cup. A Sri Lankan national, Chandana said that he was meeting his brother after seven years as both of them are in two different countries and due to various reasons could not meet each other. But the World Cup has brought them together.
Several others point out that they are in touch with many of their friends whom they had not met for a long time, sometimes beyond a decade.
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