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For Qatari residents: Do you prefer a summer or winter World Cup 2022?

Field of Dreams

Written by  Author |   Fri, 05 October 2012 11:11

A driving vision may leave you breathless but never out of breath. Imagine yourself running down the field, chasing a ball, heart beating fast, muscles burning, pushing forward, but you stay the course. Your breathing gets faster and faster, and veins are pumping battery acid, but quitting is not an option, not with everyone watching your every move.As you drive forward, the pressure intensifies and you face many obstacles such as opponents trying to tackle you down or steal your dream with deception tactics. They fail and with the right enduranceyou reach a critical threshold where focus meets destiny, and the crowd goes silent, catching its own breath, until you score, triggering a deafening roar. Just what they had expected you to do. Sports move the world, and Qatar is making the right moves, not only for soccer aficionados with the hosting of the World Cup 2022, but also athletically with viable business decisions on the sports industry, a long standing heritage in Qatar.

Sport is a huge business both locally and internationally. News agencies have reported record-breaking television ratings from NASCAR's Daytona to National Football Leagues, making sports popularity an emotional giant that motivates entire nations. Figures show that sports driven economies tend to thrive beyond GDP or trade expectations and limitations.In 1999, Qatar's GDP was $12.39 Billion, rose to $19.36 billion in 2002 and reached $60.49 Billion in 2006,when the Asian games took place. Furthermore, unemployment ratesfrom 2001 all the way to 2010 decreased from 2.7% to 0.5%. The sports thrill stimulates capital movement like no other; celebrity endorsements of products, from shampoo to food and shaving cream are living proof of that.

Qatar is a country who is serious about its athletics program. It has hosted a number of significant sports events in the past such as the Asian Cup twice(1980 and 2011), the AFC Asian Cup (1988), the Handball World Junior Championship (1999), and the Asian Games in 2006.The climax is yet to come with the FIFA 2022.

Qatar's backing of sports in the country is all part of astrategy to push towards economic diversification. The sector has enjoyed healthystate funding,some $178 Million ,in the pastand is now in such a strong position that its continued expansionwill one day soon be drivenby the private sector.

According to a researchon sports and economic development issued by the International Platform on Sport & Development, investments insports in developing countries are much less than in developed ones, as the sport industry is usually not a top priorityin a national budget or even in the education system of these countries. Developing countries usually focus all their resources on the main essentials of the academic curriculum, and treat sports as a waste of their limited resources.

In 2005, another report by James C. Knowles and Jere R. Behrman under the title of "The Economic Returns To Investing In YouthIn Developing Countries" addressed several social, health and sport issues that underdeveloped countries somehow tended to neglect.Sports and economic development are closely connected. Sports could spur developing countries to push for more construction, and infrastructure projects, as well as more foreign direct investment opportunities, creating more jobs and in turn giving consumers more buying power.

Having said that, the same study also showsthata ‘Virtuous circle' is emerging due to the underdevelopment of sports in developing countries, where diminished capital spending in the sector decreases the potential for athletes to build their talent, lowering the pool of candidates that build a country's athletic structure, also leading to fewer opportunities for athletes to continue their training or pursue professional sport careers. Less developed countries are unable to utilize their naturalpool of talented performers and tend to lose them to more powerful nations with bigger budgets.

Qatar recognizes this issue and understands the consequences of such negligence which is why the "Aspire Academy" program was born.Aspire was founded in 2004 with a mission to develop well educated champions while fostering Qatar's society in realizing a healthy, active lifestyle.Aspire combines innovative and comprehensive training methods with world class education that would give birth to a new generation of athletes Qatar can be proud of.

The Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC) is responsible forthe development of thesports sector in Qatar, from ensuring that everyone has access to sports and other facilities to endorsing Qatar as "THE" location for regional and global sporting events. The Qatar Sports Investment Company (QSi), and the QOC, are working hand in hand with sports federations providing valuable advice and experience on the business feasibility of projects as part of the government's plan to make sport in Qatar more profitable using private sector knowhow. The QSi functions as the corporate arm of the QOC, developing its own business projects so that it can introduce proceeds back into the sports sector. It has already invested in a number of major facilities such as the Al Dana Club, and the Doha Golf Club.

Local businesses are sponsoring the country's major sporting events, which helps to attract world-class athletes as the competition prize money growsbigger.It's not all about the money though; it's also about developing the talent of the future and giving them a platform to flourish. The Aspire Academy contributes to this mission directly by offering sports training to talented youngsters alongside a complete education curriculum and boasts the largest indoor sports facility in the world. For the future, further infrastructure plans are set to be put in place to help Qatar achieve its goal of becoming a global sports center.

Sportsare all about dynamic movement. Qatar may have scored the biggest soccer deal any country in the world can hope to land, but it's too soon for running down the field sucking thumbs, doing double flips, and mimicking baby lullabies. Qatar can't really afford to celebrate until perhaps when it reaches its ultimate ambitionswith strong commitmentsto this industry towards the real goal of someday becoming a regional sports hub, and this image will most certainly be appealing to all athletes who dream of a prosperous future.

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