By Mudassir Raja
Qatar is all set to celebrate National Sport Day tomorrow and different organisations and groups of people are chalking out special activities for the occasion.
At the same time, there are people busy inspiring others to lay off their daily mechanical routines and gear up for some sport and physical activities. Bosco Menezes, an Indian expatriate, photojournalist, and a sportsman, has taken up the cudgels for raising awareness about the significance of exercise and sports in everyday life.
Bosco organised an awareness programme at Fraser Suites Hotel the other day, where seven prominent sport persons made motivational and inspiring speeches by sharing their experiences of different sport activities.
Sport enthusiasts gathered on the top floor of the hotel on a cold evening to hear the motivational experiences of the speakers. The speakers included Abdulla al-Hammadi, a 60-year-old professional cyclist; Pierre Daniel, an athlete and French expatriate; Ahmed al-Shahrani, a wheel chair runner; Obada Samir, a fitness professional; Ahmed Ali, an athlete; Tarek al-Sherif, a fitness instructor; and Salman, an athlete and fit father.
The gathering was all ears, for over two hours, to the speeches that were primed to make a difference. Attentive listeners asked different questions to the speakers as well.
Talking to Community, Bosco said: “This was my ‘Big B Meet-up’ event. My first was held last year. I always wanted to get involved with the community and with all those people, who have achieved so many things to influence people in Qatar and abroad with what they do in their lives.
“For this event, in connection with Qatar National Sport Day, I invited a few achievers in sports and healthy living. The speakers talked about what they have been doing and what they have achieved. They spoke about how they manage sports in the everyday life. One of the speakers had made a world record for walking across Qatar in the shortest time. He has three kids, a wife and a job. Then, we had an old Qatari man, who takes part in all major cycling events in Europe and other parts of the world. He has been doing it for many years.”
When asked how he got the idea of organising motivational speeches, Bosco said: “I have started organising the event alone. My father started the first hockey team with the name of Wonderer’s Hockey in Qatar in 1978. My father is a sportsman. I have been in Qatar since my childhood. We still play field hockey here. We organise hockey tournaments. My father had inculcated love of sports in me. To beat the rush of upcoming sports day, I am organising the event well before time to motivate others for the occasion.
Shalini Gunawardena, Director of Sales and Market Fraser Suites, said: “I know Bosco and appreciate his works as a photographer and sportsman. He is very active and has lots of ideas and contacts. His energy, I think, has become contagious. That is how we ended up having this event.
“We also want to go along with all national events of Qatar. The sports day is coming and we wanted to have a meet-up with some influential sportspersons,” she said.
Speaking on the occasion, Abdulla al-Hammadi said: “I started cycling in 1980 when I had my first bicycle. At that time, I was in California. However, I did not go for cycling for 30 years. It was about five years ago when I came to know about the group Qatar Cyclists. They were 10-15 guys and I joined them. My passion for cycling got rekindled. Now, I think there are more than 300 cyclists in the group. We have cycle trips in different parts of the country on weekends. We also cycle for charity. We have been going to Europe to cycle for charitable causes and have so far collected about $1 million to donate for education in Gaza. This year, we are hoping to collect about QR1 million for children with heart problems. I recently completed a solo trip in Japan on my cycle. I found the Japanese very well coming. In the last five years, I have cycled for about 30,000 kilometres. In Qatar, I along with a friend had a cycling trip to raise awareness about road safety and sports in schools. We covered 511 kilometres in three days and three hours. We visited eight schools. We made presentations for about 800 children.
Ahmed al-Shahrani, a fitness enthusiast with disability, explained how important sport is and said: “I do not consider myself an athlete. I am an active individual. I am in a wheelchair because I had a car accident. I have been doing wheel chair running and fencing. Sport teaches you about your own boundaries. Sport is a controlled failure. You know when you are going to fail. You push yourself forward always and then you discover what you are capable of doing. Athletes typically recover faster from different injuries than people who do not do any sport. Athletes know their bodies. They know how to train and how to focus. Other people, who are not in sport, do not know that they are going to fall. That is an issue. It is inevitable. You can fall and get hurt. After my accident, I got up again because as a young boy, I used to be very active and sporty. As an athlete, you know your body better.”
He added: “Don’t come up with excuses. Don’t say that I will start tomorrow. Start now! It can be just few sit-ups or push-ups. Equipment and gym have nothing to do with it. I know my body and what it needs as food. I eat whatever I want. But, I do not eat when I am not hungry. I always have required [as per need] proportion of food. I do not drink while having my food. I go for healthy food only. We need to listen to our body what it is saying. It is a lifestyle. Just stay healthy and eat healthy. It is all about knowing how capable you are.”
Obada Samir said: “Fitness is not just an attractive physique. It has made me realise that if you believe in something and patiently work towards it, you can achieve any goal in life.
“Achieving these physical goals builds your confidence, character and trains your mindset each time you want something; you believe and know that with a little effort and patience you will have it. Your mind becomes an unstoppable weapon,” he noted.
Salman, co-founder of Wa’hab Food Heroes, a community group, said: “Wa’hab speaks about the responsibility we have towards the community, just as it is important to take care of our own health. Wa’hab found the BigB meet-up an important platform to raise awareness and each speaker’s story was truly inspiring. Wa’hab won the Sustainability Awards in 2018 for its efforts to reduce food wastage, by redistributing surplus food to those in need.”
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