By Sports Reporter/Doha
It’s more than just a local community football league, its getting together of long lost friends and relatives.
The Mansoura Champions League football, once an annual event of gathering of families from Mansoura, was last played 20 years ago.
Played between teams hailing from Mansoura, the tournament was discontinued after the families and the new generation moved to different parts of Doha, as the city expanded.
But now thanks to the efforts of Abdulaziz al-Galadari, the tournament has been revived after two decades.
The Good Samaritan hosted the event at a land owned by him, turning it into a temporary football pitch.
“We are organising this event after 20 years. It been such a long gap. Back in the days it was held during Ramadan and we decided we should continue to hold it during the holy month,” said al-Galadari.
Played on gravel for 10 days, the Mansoura Champions League football league saw eight teams battle for the glory in a five-side tournament.
The teams were divided into two groups.
On Tuesday night, the final was held at Al Mamoura, with the atmosphere being nothing short of festive.
“We have seen a good turnout,” said al-Galadari proudly.
“Many of the participants are playing or in to coaching at top football clubs like Al Arabi and Al Ahli.
“Once upon a time we were all a close-knit family but we lost touch. It was my and my brother’s idea to bring our people together. We decided to host the event at our land and prepared a football pitch. Once the pitch was ready, we told the community of our intention to organise the football tournament and they readily agreed. Many people like Bilal al-Shershani, Abdullah al-Shershani and others also chipped in with their support,” he said.
The tournament saw a fitting end as Mansoura lifted the title after a thrilling 6-5 win over Najma.
The match was played for 40 minutes, split into two halves.
It needed an extra time to decide the winner after both teams were locked at 5-5.
The 200-odd spectators were treated to a gripping contest as Mansoura staged a remarkable comeback after trailing by three goals to win the title.
As the match was played, it was a nostalgic moment for Hassan al-Shershani, who recounted the good old days when the families in Mansoura used to come together during Ramadan.
“Through this tournament I have met people who I haven’t seen in the last 15 years. As the city expanded we moved to different parts of the city,” said al-Shershani.
“It’s very nice to have this competition. Hopefully we can hold it every year. We should also be playing friendly matches with other communities in the future,” he added.
Mahmoud Ali Haroun also has fond memories.
“I used to play this tournament when I was young. It’s great that this tournament is back during Ramadan as it is a gathering of all generations from the same family,” he said.
“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 people of all ages taking part in this tournament. You can see the passion on the faces of everyone here and the support shown by our community.
“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 Qatar’s core objectives is to promote sports among the local community. Initiatives such as this encourages a community to develop around sport,” Ali Haroun added.
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