Blossoming community league boosts grassroots football in Qatar
Established in 2016 by the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), the Qatar Community Football League (QCFL) is currently made up of 40 teams and 1,300 players. Open to members of the public, including youth and girls, the league brings together players of all abilities to enjoy football on a weekly basis, with matches taking place at FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ training pitches.
“Having the opportunity to play on these beautiful pitches presents a massive opportunity for football lovers who look forward to enjoying the beautiful game as a break from their day to day life,” said Mohammed Muntari, who plays for Qatar Stars League champions Al Duhail and manages QCFL side Qatar Black Stars in his spare time.
“What is most striking about the league is the high level of talent that can be seen on the pitch. For some, a community league denotes a certain level of football, but once you come and watch these games in person, you will be amazed by the quality of many of these players,” added Muntari, who is also a Qatar international.
Weekly matches take place at the training pitches adjacent to the Qatar 2022 stadium in Al Rayyan, which will be inaugurated on 18 December when it hosts the Amir Cup final between Al Sadd and Arabi. The 40,000-capacity venue, which was built largely from reused and recycled materials from the deconstructed Ahmed Bin Ali Stadium, which once occupied the site, will host seven matches during Qatar 2022 up to the round of 16 stage.
Khaled Al Sulaiti plays as a defensive midfielder for the College of the North Atlantic in Qatar. He is immensely proud to play on Qatar 2022 training pitches which feature a World Cup stadium as a backdrop.
“We are getting closer to finally seeing the world’s biggest tournament in Qatar – and playing on some of the training pitches makes it feel even more tangible,” said Al Sulaiti.
“It’s a great thrill to play in this league. Despite the players being amateurs, it is brimming with talent and a great platform for emerging players in Qatar to show off their skills.”
QCFL matches are 11-a-side and played on full-size pitches. Games last 60 minutes and involve players of all abilities. Omar Saad is responsible for managing the logistics of the league – and he’s proud of its power to unite people from all walks of life.
“For the past four years, the QCFL has offered an inclusive community platform for people to come together and enjoy the beautiful game, whilst promoting a healthier lifestyle,” said Saad.
Another QCFL player is Matias Freije, an Argentinian equine vet who plays for Al Bidda, a first division team which includes a host of players from Latin America.
“The league is organised at a world-class level,” said Freije. “For amateurs that play the game as a hobby, it provides us an incredible opportunity to be part of something so extraordinary, and that is why we make sure to come out and play every week.”
SC Secretary General, H.E. Hassan Al Thawadi, is full of praise for the QCFL and its impact on grassroots football in the country.
“People from different nationalities and walks of life play in the league,” said Al Thawadi. “They retain the uniqueness of their identity, and yet together, they come and form Qatari society.”
He added: “What the community league has done for grassroots football has been such a big boost and I wish it many years of success.”
The QCFL is delivered in partnership with Evolution Sports Qatar which oversees match scheduling and operations.