By Mudassir Raja
Cricket is overwhelmingly popular in South Asian countries. However, the expatriate communities living in Qatar take keen interest in football as well.
The passion of football is fast gaining momentum in Qatar as the countdown for FIFA World Cup 2022 has already begun. Like other South Asian communities, Pakistani expatriates are also attracted towards the sport.
Sohni Dharti, an Al Khor based community of Pakistani expatriates, recently concluded its first ever ‘Football Tournament 2019’. The community group has also been organising cultural, social and sport events regularly. For the football tournament, there were six teams vying to win the maiden tournament.
Talking to Community, Ghulam Farid, Sports Secretary Sohni Dharti, said: “Our community group consists of the Pakistanis living in Al Khor, working in oil, gas and fertiliser sectors. This was our first ever football competition for the community. Though the Pakistani community is more inclined towards cricket, there was encouraging response for the football tournament. As many as 90 players registered for the six teams. The names of the teams – represented the five provinces of Pakistan – were namely, Punjab Challengers, Sindh Strikers, KPK [Khyber Pakhtunkhwa] Fighters, Baluchistan Avengers, Gilgit Wonder Boys, and the sixth team was Kashmir Riders.
“All six teams played against each other at the league stage and top four competed at the semi-finals as per the tournament format. From the beginning of the tournament, KPK fighters and Gilgit Wonder Boys looked very settled and favourites. Their passing and control of the ball remained terrific. They were fortunate enough to grab good goalkeepers as well.
“As anticipated, KPK and Gilgit qualified for the final with both teams depending heavily on their main strikers in the likes of Shafqat and Mohsen, the top two goal scorers of the tournament respectively. During the final match, Gilgit’s Mohsen Ali smashed the goal in the fifth minute of the start on a free kick, which was, equalised shortly by KPK team courtesy Shafqat on the penalty kick. Both the teams recorded 1-1 draw in the given time. The match was then decided on the penalty shoot outs. In the end, Gilgit Wonder Boys claimed the title of the first football tournament champions.”
He further said: “Prize distribution ceremony was held immediately after the final match. Individual awards in different categories were given away. All captains received recognition certificates for their efforts in managing their respective teams. Mohsen Ali remained the top goal scorer with 10 individual goals. He was awarded with ‘golden boot’. Umer Adeel was adjudged as ‘the best defender’ and Ather Sharif as ‘the best goalkeeper’ of the tournament. Two players from each team were selected and were awarded as ‘the most dedicated players’. We also gave individual prizes and medals to the players of both the wining and runners-up teams. The team of Gilgit Wonder Boys was handed over the golden-colour football-shaped winner trophy.
Speaking on the concluding ceremony, Rana Anwar Ali, Chairman of Sohni Dharti, congratulated the winning team and the winners of individual prizes. He said: “I express my heartiest thanks to all the people involved in the proceedings of our first football tournament.
“The significance and meaning of sports in our daily lives is fast becoming obvious and clearer. Physical fitness holds a key in keeping life in the equilibrium. Our sport events like football, cricket, and volleyball – fetching huge audience including kids and families – reflect the harmony, unity and togetherness among the Pakistani community living in AlKhor and Sohni Dharti is proud of playing such roles through different social and sporting events.”
Habib-ur-Rehman, tournament ambassador, conveyed his happiness and acknowledged all the players for playing safe throughout the competition. At the prize distribution ceremony, the players and spectators expressed their contentment and lauded the facilities and arrangements provided by Sohni Dharti. They hoped that the football tournament will be made a yearly event.
Famous Pakistani food outlets set up their stalls carrying traditional cuisines and sweets during the tournament. The players and spectators especially enjoyed the barfi and gulab jaman of Saughaat Sweet.
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