So on Take me back Tuesdays, I go back to an event or place I have visited….. and this week as its a first I am going back to the Qatar Tennis Open 2008 and the Asia Games 2006. The ATP Tennis Tour (http://www.atpworldtour.com/Tennis/Tournaments/Doha.aspx) has been going on for over twenty years in Doha and I remember Andy Murray winning it before he became big. He had a decent British following however hardly anyone else had heard of him, however since that win in 2009 he has yet to win again. Below are some videos of the 2008 tournament and watching a young Andy Murray on his win his first Qatar Open with an old turkish friend Devrim.
As you see some notable names in Tennis have won the competition, however it went through a down phase between 1995 and 2005 with only a few star studded competitors. Despite this Qatar decided to press ahead with its sporting ambitions and host the 2006 Asia Games, and therefore other sports received a much needed boost and the infrastructure in various sports were enhanced. As this is my first throw back Tuesday I thought I would include an additional piece on the Asia Games 2006, which was when i first moved to Doha as part of my Graduate Job with Bechtel. I knew little about Asia Games before moving to Doha (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2006_Asian_Games) however i was really impressed with the event and the facilities that were created for the event.
The main stadium of the event was the re-developed Khalifa Stadium that also contained the ‘Olympic/Asian Games Flame’
The events at the Stadium were the usual athletic type of events such as long jump and running, the level of competition was good and for once the Qatari crowd were quite into the event with decent turnouts and good support for the athletes.
For most Europeans they may find it funny/absurd however a lot of the Gulf countries bring in players from other countries and I will speak about this more, as I’m sure many people are talking about this at the moment regarding Qatar’s Handball team. On the other hand if you look at say the France football team it contains many players who are ethnically not French (such as Benzema (Algerian), Nasri (Algerian), Pogba (Guinean), ) or German (Ozil (Turkish), Podolski (Poland), Khedira (Tunisian), so what is the difference between these players representing their countries and those guys representing the Gulf countries? A lot if you ask Fifa (http://www.espnfc.com/story/293645/qatar-naturalisation-plans-annoy-blatter) who subsequently changed the laws to the following – From Article 17 of FIFA Statute: Any Player who to assume a new nationality and who has not played international football shall be eligible to play for the new representative team only if he fulfills one of the following conditions: (a) He was born on the territory of the relevant Association; (b) His biological mother or biological father was born on the territory of the relevant Association; (c) His grandmother or grandfather was born on the territory of the relevant Association; (d) He has lived continuously for at least five years after reaching the age of 18 on the territory of the relevant Association. Article 17 (d) was added to FIFA Statute to address this issue of Qatar Football Association policy of scouting young players from South America and Africa and bringing them over to Qatar to represent their national team. It’s a contentious identity issue and I feel it depends on your upbringing and views on immigration. ANYWAY…. back to the Asia Games, another venue was the Aspire Dome, which had the Wrestling, Boxing and Gymnastics. The Gymnastics was really impressive and first time I had seen it to that standard so I was really amazed. Below are some of the pictures of the Gymnasts.
Perhaps the best part of the Asia games was the unique sports that were on offer, i dont have images but my two favourite were Sepaktakraw (kick volleyball – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sepak_takraw) and Kabaddi (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kabaddi) which are brilliant spectator sports and worth going to an Asia games event for. Another sport I enjoyed following was obviously football with the home nation playing Iraq in the final. In context, the fact that Iraq reached the final whilst it was in the midst of massive upheaval was really amazing. I went to watch it with two of my collogues at the time, Guillermo and Mike. Guillermo was the first Peruvian I had ever met and Mike was the first Egyptian Cristian I had ever met. People say London and New York is the melting pots of the world, however expat cities like Doha, Singapore, Dubai, Hong Kong from what I can tell from my experience and from friends is often where you actually get to meet people from all over the world.
So there you have it my take me back Tuesday double edition… Walikum As Salam… Adieu, Adieu…Stormy