Aspire Zone’s Ladies Sports Hall hosted eight thrilling matches on Friday and Saturday during the opening of the 2nd Aspire Embassies Futsal Tournament, which is backed by senior representatives from foreign embassies in Qatar in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA).
At 5pm on Friday, Group A matches kicked off with Kenya beating Ethiopia in a one-sided game that ended 7-1. A considerable number of Kenyan and Ethiopian fans watched from the stands, demonstrating the level of passion for sports that exists among Qatar’s diverse communities. Meanwhile, India revealed hidden football talent with a fierce offensive against Kazakhstan, running out 7-0 victors.
Group B matches started at 7pm, with Jordan’s merciless embassy staff defeating France 16-4, following four late consolation goals from France. In the last Friday fixture, Sudan played a hard-fought match against Algeria that ended 8-4.
On Saturday, group stage matches resumed with MOFA’s team defeating Somalia 8-3 in Group C and Djibouti taking three easy points against South Africa.
In Group D matches, Aspire Zone emerged 8-3 victors against Spain, while Syria defeated the UK 6-2.
Commenting on the opening matches, Tournament director Mohamed Mubarak al-Kuwari, who also participated as part of the Aspire Zone team, said, “I’m delighted to see all these enthusiastic diplomatic mission members and local community members play together. This competition truly shows the diversity of the people who love the beautiful game in Qatar.”
Al-Kuwari added: “The performances were outstanding and I can already tell that competition will build as we head towards the knockout rounds. We have received very positive feedback from the Ambassadors during the first week of the tournament and we look forward to welcoming more teams as we continue its development.”
French ambassador to Qatar Eric Chevallier, talking following the match against Jordan, said, “This is a well-organised tournament with a good atmosphere – that’s why we wanted to be part of it. The French and other embassies are part of life here in Qatar and, though we lost today, we’re glad we participated. Shukran Aspire.”
Kenya’s deputy ambassador to Qatar Daniel Tanui added: “We participated in 2016 and really enjoyed it. It’s a good initiative that gives us an opportunity to enjoy sport while interacting with the local community. But it’s not just this one – we participate in many of local events, including National Sport Day, Qatar Community Football Tournament and African Embassies Football tournament. We love these events because Kenya is a sporting nation and they are always well executed.”
This coming weekend, eight group stage qualifications matches will be played. On Friday, Kenya will compete against India, and Ethiopia against Kazakhstan. These matches will be followed by France vs Sudan and Jordan vs Algeria. On Saturday, South Africa will face Somalia, Djibouti will play Qatar’s MOFA, Aspire will take on Syria, and Spain will go up against the UK. All matches will be played from 5pm to 8pm.
AZF has brought the tournament back for a second edition after many participating embassies requested its return. The tournament is organised in line with AZF’s efforts to promote a healthy and active lifestyle among community members of all ages, and to bring everyone together within an active environment. Football fans are also welcome to attend the tournament and cheer on their favourite teams.
Action from the match between Aspire Zone and Spanish embassy.