One of the world’s most socially diverse football leagues, the Qatar Community Football League (QCFL), has returned for a new season to meet the insatiable demand for the sport among football-mad residents of Qatar. Sponsored by the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), the QCFL kicked-off on Tuesday with a launch event, entertainment and the first of many games at the world-class facilities in the Aspire Zone.
The QCFL, which will run until April 2017, is a two-tiered pyramid league in which 24 teams across both divisions compete. The upper division’s bottom two sides will get relegated at the end of the season and the top two finishers of the second division will take their places.
Over 600 players from 75 nationalities are taking part in the league, making it more diverse than the English Premier League (64 nationalities), the Bundesliga (55) and La Liga (51). With community representation from every continent, particularly Asia, Africa and Europe, the QCFL epitomises football’s ability to bring diverse groups together.
With the Aspire Zone Foundation (AZF) co-sponsoring this year’s tournament, Qatar’s football family has united behind the QCFL to give fans and players yet another opportunity to enjoy the beautiful game.
SC Community Engagement manager Khalid al-Jumaily said after the launch event: “The SC is always eager to create new opportunities for Qatar’s sporting passion to flourish so the decision to sponsor the QCFL was an easy one to make. Grassroots tournaments such as this exhibit Qatar’s passion for football in all its glory, all the while keeping people fit and healthy in a fun environment. I’m pleased to see players of all ages and nationalities taking part today as it makes football’s ability to unite diverse communities evident for all the world to see. Qatar is made up of several communities, but here we are one community.”
The QCFL’s return marks another milestone in the delivery of a lasting positive legacy for Qatar thanks to the country’s preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. In addition to SC initiatives that specifically focus on using sports to empower social change among kids and local communities, the QCFL adds to the wildly successful Workers Cup in offering communities in Qatar more opportunities to play football. Six community teams have entered this season with another two teams sponsored through construction companies. The QCFL thus meets the demands set out in the Qatar National Vision 2030, which explicitly calls for the promotion of sports participation and physical activity to encourage a happy and healthy society, very effectively.
Ronan Kelly, QCFL secretary and captain of Parkhouse Caledonian FC, said: “I’m delighted because we’ve been raring to get on the pitch. You can see the passion on the faces of everyone here and the support shown by the different communities, especially the Kenyans.”
QCFL matches will take place every Tuesday and Wednesday on the same pitches used by the likes of Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich for their winter training camps. Each match lasts 60 minutes and teams are allowed to use an unlimited number of substitutes.
Tariq al-Abdulla, Venues manager at AZF, said: “The only way I can describe this tournament is that it’s the football equivalent of the legendary Rio de Janeiro Carnival. Players have brought their families and friends to watch the action unfold, there’s healthy competition between the teams on the pitch - it’s just a wonderful atmosphere. One of our core objectives at Aspire is to promote sports among the local community. Initiatives such as the QCFL do so beautifully by both getting people moving and by encouraging a community to develop around sport.” (SC.qa)
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