Supreme Committee of Delivery and Legacy (SC) secretary-general Hassan al-Thawadi has said that the National Sport Day (NSD) has spurred the participation of people in sporting activities across the country.
“The great thing about Qatar is that we embrace sports as part of our community. I think there is always room for new sports,” he said.
“Since the inception (of NSD), there has been a huge spike in participation across various sporting disciplines. Sports that were considered traditional in a certain way but participating in it wasn’t, now there is room and opportunity for people to do so. Cycling, marathons, jiu-jitsu, combat sports, rugby, have all taken off. They have launched dodgeball today, there is definitely going to be involvement in it.”
And so, World Dodgeball Association (WDA), with an eye on becoming “the most accessible sport on the planet”, made a foray into Qatar, with the launch of Qatar Dodgeball Federation yesterday.
WDA, according to its president Tom Hickson, has partnered with Ministry of Culture and Sport, and Aspire Zone Foundation to help lay the foundations in the country for a sport that many had heard of through a 2004 comedy movie starring Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller.
The movie, understandably so, may not be an accurate portrayal of the sport, but in reality, dodgeball will see its share of glamour and eyeballs when the 2018 edition of the World Cup is hosted at the famed Madison Square Garden in New York City in August.
“The top 10 teams in the world, across three categories — men, women and mixed — will be participating in the tournament, with current champions, England (men and mixed) and Australia (women), granted automatic entries,” Hickson said.
Teams have qualified for the tournament through continental qualifying tournaments in 2017. African qualifiers were held in Cairo, Asian in Kuala Lumpur, Americas in Washington, DC, and European in Glasgow.
Yesterday, the Englishman was at the Aspire Park, talking to visitors, kids, media and officials, hosting demo sessions alongside.
“Qatar has some magnificent aspirations around wanting to engage in community sport. Secondly, there are sporting opportunities that dodgeball offers in terms of accessibility, resonates with cultural values here in Qatar, and it’s really about an opportunity for everyone to take part in a community friendly sport. That’s why we are here on the National Sport Day,” Hickson told Gulf Times.
The 32-year-old, who helped establish the world governing body a little more than four years ago, explained the process of establishing a federation.
“So we have three main stages — grassroots, competition, high performance. When you get to competitive elements, the international rules guide of the WDA will apply. But at grassroots, it’s about engaging with people, not about being rigid around rules and regulations, it’s about accessibility,” he said.
The Qatar federation, he said, comprises eight people at the moment, including board members and grassroots coaches. “Ramy Ramzy is the current head coach and executive board member, who is a national level qualified coach. He is responsible for making sure that the grassroots programme, from the strategic point of view, is embedded across the country,” Hickson said.
The others involved from WDA are Singapore’s Emmanuel Tan, world body’s current Africa and Middle East continental manager Hany Nabil, and Hickson himself.
“We are looking at Qatar from the global partnership perspective, a potential of being based out of here in the future,” Hickson said.
“At the moment we are focused on establishing new dodgeball activities, whether that’s in schools, universities, colleges, in places of work or sports clubs. We want to make sure that grassroots dodgeball is available everywhere.”
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