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Chronicle of a nation’s exhilarating journey in sport

Author Matthias Krug highlights Qatar’s achievements in football and other aspects of sport in his book ‘Journeys on a Football Carpet’.
Author Matthias Krug Badr Bilal Hans Udo Muzei, Boxer Sheikh Fahad Bin Khalid Al Thani Athletics Coach Joachim Krug Athlete Mariam Farid Journeys On A Football Carpet
Author Matthias Krug, former Qatari footballer Badr Bilal, German Ambassador to Qatar Hans-Udo Muzei, boxer Sheikh Fahad bin Khalid Al Thani, athletics coach Joachim Krug and athlete Mariam Farid (from left) at the launch of the book ‘Journeys on a Football Carpet’. IQ Photo

Qatar football and Qatar sports have come a long way in the past few decades. Not merely that, Qatar’s list of accomplishments in organising international events is highly impressive. These are stories that author Matthias Krug tells  in his book ‘Journeys on a Football Carpet’ which was launched at the Qatar National Library on Thursday.

“As I was born in Qatar and grew up here, I have seen what Qatar has achieved. I wanted to tell the world how a young and small country dared to dream big on the sporting stage. The book is about telling these stories in the build-up to the World Cup,” he said during a panel discussion on Qatar’s achievements in the sphere of sports.

The panel discussion was part of the book launch and it featured former Qatar footballer Badr Bilal, Joachim Krug, one of the coaches of the Qatar athletics team, Sheikh Fahad bin Khalid Al Thani, Qatar’s first professional boxer and Qatari athlete Mariam Farid.

Bilal, a member of the team that finished runner-up in the under-20 World Cup in 1981, recalled fond memories from his career and pointed out a key source of support and motivation for Qatar’s football teams.

“During my playing days, the Father Emir HH Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani spoke words of encouragement and inspired us. Today, the Emir HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani is doing the same for the national team. Qatar’s royal family has always been a great source of support for the football team,” said Bilal.

Sheikh Fahad applauded Qatar’s contribution to the world of sports and was hopeful that there would be more takers for boxing.

“I want to see Qatar becoming a hub for professional boxers in the Middle East. There are many boxers in the Middle East who would love to turn professional but it’s very difficult for them. I hope that in the future we can set up a governing body in Qatar that can help boxers in the region to do that,” he said.

Mariam Farid spoke about her experiences as a Qatari sportsperson and highlighted the challenges she faced as a woman athlete from the region.

“At first, fellow athletes and other people used to look at me in a strange way and wonder how I was competing with my hijab. But that didn’t stop me from doing so. It’s nice to break stereotypes,” she said.

She recalled the ‘great experience’ she had in taking part in the IAAF Athletics World Championships at home. “It was beautiful to have your family, friends, members of the Olympic Committee and the Emir HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani watching you and encouraging you. I felt a great sense of pride,” she said.

Krug rounded off the evening by saying, “Through my book, I hope the world has a better understanding of what Qatar has achieved as a sporting nation”.