“My wife’s words paint pictures in my mind of the beautiful game,” said Ikrami.
Despite decreased capacity at this year’s FIFA Club World Cup, football fever filled the stadiums. Hundreds of people gathered to cheer for Al-Ahly SC as they took on Al Duhail SC in Education City Stadium, dancing and clapping eagerly in excitement. But for Ikrami Ahmad, a visually-impaired fan of the Egyptian team, it was a wholly unique experience.
Growing up in Egypt, Ahmad would always hear stories about the glory of the giant Al Ahly club, which had several golden prayers – including famous icon Mohamed Aboutrika – that were idolised by all football lovers throughout their childhood.
Though Ahmad was born blind, his love for football continued to develop, he told FIFA, saying he relied on auditory cues to enjoy the beautiful game.
“Most people are amazed to hear that a blind fan can enjoy football. But what they don’t know is that having the game come to life in your imagination allows me to enjoy the game even more than a sighted person. This is exactly why there are so many blind football fans,” Ikrami told FIFA.
Up until the Al Ahly against Duhail game, Ahmad has never attended an Egyptian CAF Champions match before, so this game was extra special for him, especially with his wife by his side.
During his years, the 31-year old fan attended a plethora of matches, including the last edition of the FIFA Club World Cup, which was also held in Qatar, and the FIFA World Cup™ in Russia.
“Ikrami relies on a companion to describe the action taking place in the stadium – including the tactics, formations and even the banners in the stands,” FIFA explained.
For the Al Ahly SC match, Ahmad’s wife, Eman, narrated the game for him – an exciting moment for both fans considering Al Ahly snatched the win.
“Even though Eman might not be the biggest football fan, she does live with me on a day-to-day basis, and therefore knows exactly how to describe what’s going on in the stadium in a way that communicates the match and all its excitement clearly. Her words paint pictures in my mind of the beautiful game,” Ikrami, who is a father of two, said.
“Being among the fans, feeling their excitement, their reactions and objections to every decision, the way they scream out of frustration or joy, also helps me to know exactly what is happening on the pitch,” he added.
To support fans with disabilities enjoy the world’s most popular sport, Ikrami works as an activity coordinator at the Qatar Social and Cultural Club for the Blind, an organisation tasked with advocating for greater accessibility for the blind and visually impaired in Qatar, FIFA said.
Ahmad’s work links his passion for the game with his eagerness to help those like him in across the country, which hosts hundreds of sporting events a year. His work, which focuses on football, is seen as an essential part of the social fabric of the country.
“Football is a beautiful sport. I love it because of the number of ups and downs it has in just a matter of 90 minutes. I love the sport because of the deep connection fans have with their clubs and players,” he said.
“The game has become such an integral part of people’s cultures. Whether it’s local or international football, it’s a game that’s a part of who we all are,” he added.