Young fans share their excitement for Qatar 2022 as countdown reaches 500 days to go
There are exactly 500 days to go until Qatar hosts the first FIFA World Cup™ in the Middle East and Arab world – and excitement is building across the country.
Fans of all ages are eager to see their favourite teams in action when the 22nd edition of the tournament kicks off on 21 November 2022.
To mark the 500 days to go milestone, qatar2022.qa interviewed schoolchildren about their hopes for the tournament, which is set to be the most compact version of the event in modern history.
We spoke to youngsters from Qatar Academy, Doha College, Arab International Academy and Ahmed Mansour Primary School.
Haya Al Thani, Arab International Academy, age seven
More than a million fans are expected to travel to Qatar for the tournament. And thanks to the country’s compact nature, they will always be close to the action. Wherever fans stay, they will never be more than about an hour from a stadium or tourist attraction.
Ten-year-old Qatari student Mohammed Al Sulaiti, from Qatar Academy, is excited to welcome fans from all over the world.
He said: “I’m proud of my country and proud to be Qatari, and I’m looking forward to meeting different people and learning about their cultures. I’m excited to show the world our country’s culture and heritage.”
Fourteen-year-old Jad Ahmed, from Doha College, is eager for fans to experience Qatar’s diversity and hospitality.
“I would tell fans that Qatar is a great place with lots of diversity. It is a very accepting place and anyone can come here and have a great time. You will always feel welcome here,” he said.
Jad is also excited to see Qatar – the reigning champions of Asia – compete in the World Cup for the first time.
“Qatar has the chance to prove themselves to the whole world,” said Jad. “I’m excited to see Qatar and France play. It will also be interesting to see whether France can win again and keep their title.”
Haya Al Thani, seven years old, from Arab International Academy, said: “I support Qatar, my country. Qatar, Qatar, Qatar!”
Ruby Bjorkhammer, Doha College, age ten
Seeing superstars in Qatar
For many children, their dream is to see sporting superstars on the pitch.
“My favourite player is Harry Kane,” said ten-year-old Ruby Bjorkhammer, who has English and Swedish heritage and goes to Doha College. “Usually we just watch football on television, so I can’t wait to go watch it at the stadium if we can get tickets.”
Seven-year-old Laith Al Khshali, who has Iraqi and English parents, attends Arab International Academy. He said: “Neymar Junior is a very good player. I want to see him play in Qatar. I support Brazil. During the World Cup, I want to attend the matches and watch Neymar Junior with my mum, dad and brother.”
Serine Mecharnia, Arab International Academy, age seven
With only 16 months to go, more than 95% of Qatar’s World Cup infrastructure projects have been completed. Five stadiums are ready to host matches, while the remaining three will be delivered well in advance of the tournament.
With uniquely crafted designs and architecture, each of the state-of-the-art-stadiums has a story to share with the world.
“My favourite stadium is Al Bayt,” said Jad. “Its design is like nothing you have seen before. The design relates to Qatar, which makes it unique compared to other stadiums around the world.”
The 60,000-capacity Al Bayt, which will host the opening game of Qatar 2022, is one of the most eye-catching stadiums. Designed to replicate a traditional tent structure, it is a cultural gem and an embodiment of the hospitality of the people of Qatar.
“We have seen some of the stadiums. There is one that looks like a camp in the middle of the desert. It looks like a big tent,” said Al Bayt fan Kai Qi Chng, who is Chinese and 11 years old.
Another major infrastructure project is the Doha Metro, which has been up and running since May 2019. Thanks to the metro and Qatar’s compact tournament footprint, fans will have the chance to attend more than one match a day during the early stages of the tournament.
“I’ve seen the metro system being built and put into use and I’m excited to see the fans use it,” said 14-year-old Matteo Cardinale from Doha College. “It will obviously be packed but the energy will be something to remember.”
Vitor Cruz, 14, from Doha College, said everyone should be aiming to visit Qatar for the tournament.
“It’s really beautiful – just come and enjoy the experience. It’s in a great location. Central in the world. You can just catch a quick flight and get here.”