Sports

Meet the man responsible for getting Qatar’s football team World Cup ready

June 2018

Mansoor Al Ansari

How Qatar’s extensive range of facilities and preparatory programmes is getting Qatar’s football team ready for the 2022 World Cup

To many a youngster, it would surely be a dream job. Mansoor Al Ansari is General Secretary of the Qatar Football Association. And while his role requires him to establish and maintain good relations with the global football fraternity, it is young people he seeks to inspire.

He explains: “Our emphasis on youth development stems from our strategy which is to develop successful national teams across all levels, specifically the youth as they will
be the team that will participate in the 2022 World Cup.”

Developing a talented team for the 2022 World Cup is of course his key objective – and one that he hopes will see the national football team become the pride of Qatar.

He says: “Our goal is for our national teams to perform well at all the competitions with the aspiration of qualifying for all major tournaments such as the FIFA World Cups and winning the continental and regional competitions.”

“We have great facilities for our youth players at the Aspire Academy, excellent coaches, outstanding education programmes, and we organise various friendly matches, all with the aim of developing youth and senior teams so they can compete at the highest level.”

He maintains that despite not qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Qatar’s national football team will be ready for its own tournament. “We are certain that our national team will play to the best of their abilities during the 2022 World Cup,” he says. “After all, they will be representing their country as Qatar hosts the biggest football event on the planet.”

“We are on the right track with our team development plans for the 2022 World Cup. We are increasing training and organising friendly matches, fostering a high performance culture, providing a comprehensive performance analysis system and providing periodic training courses to referees, coaches, club officials, and players on the rules of the game to ensure our national team has what it takes to compete.”

Al Ansari previously headed operations at the QNB Stars League, which has attracted talent such as Xavi Hernandez and Wesley Sneijder.

He says: “Having names such as Hernandez and Sneijder shows just how much the league has developed over the years. These are world-known players that can exchange their knowledge and expertise with our local players and help bring the competition level of the league to a higher level. Having them definitely gives the league a great reputation amongst other leagues in the region and the continent.”

More widely, he sees that sport is central to Qatar’s future. He explains: “Qatar has made a name for itself at the local, regional and international sports scene.”

“We have a day in the year on which the whole country has a public holiday to take part in their favourite sport. The National Sport Day is dedicated to ensuring that the
whole population has the opportunity to adopt a healthy lifestyle through sports.”

“Our country’s 2030 vision places special emphasis on sports and the importance of having an increased sports participation within the local community.”

To this end, the QFA runs many social responsibility initiatives, community-specific leagues, and grassroots programmes to promote a healthy lifestyle for all Qataris.

The Association also works with world-renowned institutions such as Aspire and Aspetar. The Aspire Academy was set up to discover and develop the best Qatari athletes in all sports, and is a prime source of new talent for the national teams.

Indeed, the Aspire football program has been a resounding success, with all players on the Qatar U-19 national team that won the AFC U-19 Championship in Myanmar, and qualified for the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand, coming from the Academy.

At the same time, Aspetar plays a significant role in the performance aspect of all the players. Al Ansari says: “Aspetar has established itself as a leading specialised
orthopaedic and sports medicine hospital and the very
first in the Gulf region.”

Together, all these parts should come together as a recipe for sporting success. Al Ansari says: “The entire football ecosystem which has been set up in Qatar works seamlessly in the development and improvement of the sport and the athletes.”