Qatar should focus more on developing the talent of young locals, rather than opting to import and naturalize athletes to build its national teams, Editor-in-Chief of Doha Stadium Plus Dr. Ahmed Al Mohannadi has said.
In an opinion piece published in the local sports publication, the editor cites a dearth of funding and support for Qatari sportsmen and women, including motorcyclist Mishal Al Naimi and rally driver Abdulaziz Al Kuwari.
Al Kuwari, for example, has no corporate backing for 2014:
“Despite finishing second in the World Rally Championship’s support category last season, he doesn’t have a sponsor this year!
…Several national federations and talent scouts often lament the dearth of local talents and they resort to naturalisation in a bid to form strong teams. But here’s one sport where we’ve our own talented youngsters who, however, don’t get enough support.”
In a recent interview with Doha Stadium Plus, Al Kuwari explained his predicament:
“My last competition was three months ago and after that I hadn’t been able to train. So I went to Kuwait recently, rented a car and trained for a few days. I had to bear all expenses and I won’t be able to do it for long. If there’s no sponsorship support, it’s the end of the road for me.”
Not all athletes are struggling. Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah, for example, has backing from Ooredoo and Barwa Bank, but only gained widespread fame and support after winning the Dakar Rally and an Olympic medal in skeet shooting.
Lack of local talent
Al Mohannadi’s views come as respondents to a recent poll about low football match attendance cited “a lack of local stars” as was one of the key reasons for not going to games in Qatar.
The solution to this, according to Al Mohannadi, is for companies to focus their funding support on teams that are nurturing Qatari talent:
“It seems there’s a tendency among some of our officials to promote the country purely as a brand, and not Qataris. It’s time we changed our outlook.”