A thriving sports scene
Different federations in Qatar
Qatar hopes to become the centre of the sporting universe as it continues to make massive investments in the field. The small Gulf country has hosted hundreds of sporting events each year with the biggest one yet to come, the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The passion for the world of sports has led to the formation of a number of different federations that are nurturing and training future athletes as well as helping to develop the sport on both a regional and international level. Here are some of the different sports federations that can be found in Qatar.
Qatar Football Association
Established in 1960, the Qatar Football Association (QFA) is the governing body for football in the country. The association houses Qatar’s national team and holds local competitions and championships. The highest professional league in Qatar is the QNB Stars League where teams compete until the top four are left. These teams then compete in the Qatar Cup, which was formed in 1994, and the winners take home a trophy. QFA aims to promote football locally, find and develop young talent who can go on to play in national teams as well improve infrastructure to help boost the games’ professionalism.
FIFA affiliation: 1972
President: Hamad Bin Khalifa Bin Ahmed Al-Thani
Qatar Basketball Federation
The Qatar Basketball Federation (QBF) was established in 1964 and oversees local and international competitions involving Qatari teams. They house the Qatar National Basketball team and the Qatar Women’s Basketball team. The organisation joined the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) in 1977 and FIBA Asia in 1979. QBF holds a Qatari Basketball league which allows the winning team to participate in the upcoming FIBA Asia Champions Cup.
Qatar Athletics Federation
This is the governing body for all athletic sports, including competitive running, jumping, throwing, and race walking. Qatar’s athletics team have so far won two bronze medals and one silver at the Olympics. Athletes who graduate from the Aspire Academy go on to join the Qatar Athletics Federation Junior and Senior teams to represent the country internationally.
Qatar Tennis, Squash and Badminton Federation
First established in 1984, the federation only had tennis and squash. However, squash separated from the tennis federation in 2001 after it hosted local, regional and international events. Tennis was then added again with badminton in 2017 making it the federation we know today. Similarly, they host national and international sports events and have joined the international, Asian and Arab federations. The federation gives its athletes opportunities to train and compete in major events.
Qatar Camel Racing Committee
Camel racing has been part of the Qatari tradition for centuries. It used to be commonly practiced during weddings as entertainment, but evolved into its own sport and a multi-million-dollar industry. The Qatar Camel Racing Committee (QCRC) hosts competitions between October and February annually on Fridays, while the big competitions are held between March and April at the Al Shahaniya Camel Racetrack in Doha. The winner of the competition receives the Golden Sword award, presented by former Emir, Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani.
Chairman: H E Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Faisal Al-Thani
Qatari Society of Al Gannas
Another traditional and widely practiced sport in Qatar is falconry and hunting, where bird owners compete on whose falcon catches the prey the fastest. In order to preserve this sport, the Al Gannas society was established in 2008 and has since been dedicated to promoting traditional Arabic hunting. The main office is located in Katara Village. There are competitions held yearly during hunting season, which is between October and April. The society is involved in organising events and regional contests, as well as representing Arab hunters both nationally and internationally. Consisting of the best facilities and equipment required for hunting, Al Gannas also aims to encourage research and studies in the field.
Al Shaqab: Arabian horse-breeding and horse-riding
A member of Qatar Foundation, Al Shaqab is an equestrian club that promotes and preserves the cultural legacy of the Arabian horse and horse riding. Breeding Arabian horses is of importance to the Qatari society because it was ridden by Qatari knights during their fight against the Ottomans that helped them gain their independence. Al Shaqab offers an educational training programme to promote horsemanship in the society through lessons, camps and equine training. In regards to competitions, the first time that a Qatari equestrian team competed in the Olympic Games was in 2016, in Rio. The rider Sheikh Ali Al Thani finished in sixth place.
Qatar Shooting Association
The Qatar Shooting Association was first established in 1978 as part of the country’s Armed Forces, but later joined with Archery in the year 2000. In the same year, women’s shooting activities were also introduced. Athletes part of this federation participate in national and international competitions, such as the Asian Shooting Championship and the Qatar Olympic Shooting and Archery Cup. Some of the athletes from the association are also selected to do general training like strength and conditioning at the Aspire Academy, alongside their sport specific training.
Qatar Boxing Federation
Boxing was further introduced to the Qatari society during the visit of the iconic boxer Muhammad Ali in 1971. He graced Qatar during his Arab World tour and performed an exhibition match to showcase his talents. The venue at the time, Doha Stadium, which was Qatar’s first playground, was packed with people who came to witness the legend. His presence excited people about the sport and encouraged Arab countries to develop boxing locally. Fast forward and the Qatari boxing team made their debut on the world stage in the Rio games in 2016. For the bantamweight class (boxers who weigh up to 118 pounds/53.5 kg), Hakan Erşeker competed while Qatari boxer of Sri Lankan Tamil descent, Thulasi Tharumalingam, competed for the light welterweight (for boxers who weight up to 141 pounds/64 kg). Qatar also hosted the 2015 AIBA World Boxing Championship at the Ali Bin Hamad Al Attiyah Arena.
Yousuf Ali Al-Kazim
Qatar Taekwondo, Judo and Karate Federation
This federation is the governing body for taekwondo, judo, and karate competitions locally and internationally and the representative of the Qatari teams in these sports. Most recently they were supposed to host the 2020 IJF Masters on May 28. However, due to the outbreak of Covid-19 the event was postponed by the International Judo Federation. Qatar is also due to host the World Judo Championship in 2023 which qualifies to the Olympics in 2024.
Qatar Billiards and Snooker Federation
Originally formed in 1991, it was named the Association of Qatar Billiards and Snooker but later became a federation in 1997. Here the participants are trained to become lead billiard-pool and snooker players. Through this federation, Qatar has hosted the 2016 and 2017 World 9-ball championships.
Qatar Winter Sports Committee
Established in 2014, this committee holds three winter sports, ice hockey, ice skating and ice curling. The Qatar Ice Hockey National Team has 20 officially registered members and around 200 members in the minor teams. The Qatari National Ice Hockey Team has been a member of the International Ice Hockey Federation since 2012.
Qatar Cycling Federation
The Qatar Cycling Federation (QCF) aims to increase participation in cycling across the country, while supporting its athletes to reach their potential. The national cycling team is well-equipped for regional and international cycling competitions. Qatar hosted the 2016 UCI World Championships and the first edition of the Doha Triathlon was held in 2017 at MIA Park. The federation is focusing on developing strategies to meet its 2028 goals, which includes developing Qatari talent in cycling and promoting a healthy activity to the Qatari population.
Qatar Sailing and Rowing Federation
With Qatar surrounded by the ocean, it is no surprise that water sports are practiced in the country. The national team for both of these sports have made it to multiple regional and international events including the 10th Kuwait International Regatta and the 2017 Asian Sailing Championship. The rowing team had participated in the 2017 Arab Rowing Championship held in Tunisia. With many successes from both teams, the federation aims to continue developing the sport in the country.
Photos: 1 – Francois Nel / Staff, 2 – Qatar Football Association, 3 – Francois Nel / Staff, 4 – Warren Little / Staff