As it gears up for its first appearance in the Qatar Stars League in four years, local football club Al Shamal Sports Club has said it’s been working on ways to better engage its fans.
On Saturday, management announced a partnership with Network Advertising and Events, a tie-up that aims to garner public interest in the club, and in the sport of football through a series of fan engagement activities.
The move comes as Qatar, host of the 2022 World Cup, works to instill more of a football culture in its residents.
The new fan engagement and community outreach program will organize football-related activities like mini football matches, football juggling and freestyle competitions, and penalty shootouts to better engage the crowd.
Bazaars will also be held at the Shamal Stadium, a newly built facility that resembles a traditional Qatari fortress and is located at the northernmost tip of Qatar.
The markets in the stadium will have DJs and other entertainment and contests with prizes for the winners.
Events will be held two to three hours prior to the start of the match and during halftime, with club members engaging with the crowd.
The program kicks off on Aug. 22, with the season’s opener of Al Shamal SC versus Al Kharaitiyat FC.
Fan turnout for local football matches here is fairly low.
A survey by the Qatar Football Association earlier this year found that some 65 percent of respondents hadn’t attended a match during the current season or the one before it.
Those surveyed cited several reasons for this, including a lack of engagement. Some 60 percent said that the absence of “local football stars” put them off, and 77 percent of young fans (aged under 24) said they felt clubs needed to try harder to create better relationships with match-goers.
The hot weather, traffic congestion and cultural concerns among women have also been keeping residents away from local matches.
Acknowledging the problem, Shamshuduha Armar, the COO of Network Advertising and Events, told Doha News that Al Shamal’s engagement with fans has traditionally been low.
“However, in the recent past we have seen great changes towards football-related activities and fans engagement activities by specific clubs and by the QSL itself for all the clubs across the country for almost a year long season (which I believe has garnered great attention and interests by the populace of the country)…
We’re hoping to target people who live in Shamal and those around the area. But naturally, if clubs like Al Rayyan are playing Al Shamal, people from Doha will travel to see the match, so they’re part of our demographic too.”
Al Shamal SC is also hoping to institute a community outreach program, where members of the club would become involved in activities that benefit the greater society.
No further details on this initiative has been disclosed, but it is also expected to begin on Aug. 22.
What do you think clubs can do to engage football fans in Qatar? Thoughts?