DOHA: Sometimes a simple pass, handshake or smile can have such an incredible impact on the life of a young child. This past weekend we saw this on the ground as we took Xavi Hernandez to one of the football pitches our Generation Amazing programme has built in the Al Baqa’a refugee camp in Jordan. The faces of the youngsters like Hadeel or Ashraf told their own story.
It was a proud moment for me personally and for our entire organisation delivering the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar to see such an inspirational footballer, a role model for an entire generation who embodies fair play and a positive approach to the beautiful game, stepping foot onto that pitch and meeting those kids. Our flagship CSR programme gives youngsters the chance to transform the community they live in with our continuous support and training, as well as assistance in delivering the sporting infrastructure to help them flourish.
We believe in the power football has to change lives, and the transformational effect the first FIFA World Cup™ in the Arab world will have on our region. It is heart-warming and important to see this in action on a football pitch that we constructed in a community which needed safe spaces to play.
We first started Generation Amazing during our bid for Qatar 2022 back in 2010, as part of our commitment to developing the game. We could not have imagined the scale to which it would grow over the subsequent years, and the number of people who would benefit as a result across Asia. The programme goes beyond sport by employing football for development activities related to healthy living, inclusiveness and environmental sustainability. As a result we have created training materials which allow classroom-style learning out on a football pitch. We don’t just build pitches, we actually provide the programme to develop a young generation capable of helping and inspiring their community.
I’m proud to see that Generation Amazing as a programme has gone from strength to strength, arriving at the place where we are today. We have reached six countries, built or refurbished 27 pitches, and seen over 14,500 youngsters benefit from the programme. When we first started Generation Amazing during our bid for Qatar 2022 back in 2010, we could not have imagined the scale to which it would grow over the subsequent years, and the number of people who would benefit as a result across Asia.
A few months ago I was lucky enough to witness first-hand the powerful effect the programme has in Nepal, where our pitches and community programmes are allowing hundreds of youngsters to enjoy football facilities that they had no access to previously. In Pakistan, too, it is helping children from under-privileged communities to develop the sporting and social skills necessary to take them towards a more successful future. By 2022, we aim to have reached at least 12 countries in our region and the Asian continent.
Six years after winning the right to host the greatest tournament in the world, we are delivering on our promises on the ground on a daily basis. Halfway to 2022, we are inspiring children and giving them sporting chances and facilities they would not have had access to, we are advancing rapidly with work across eight stadium sites in Qatar which will provide a sporting legacy to our future generations, and our stakeholders at Qatar Rail have recently completed tunnelling works for Doha Metro, which will connect fans in 2022.
We are pushing forward all the time. This month we also start to roll out the Generation Amazing programme on a large scale in Qatar, after a pilot project conducted this year showcased just how popular it was with local schoolchildren, as well as migrant workers who will be given regular football for development classes through our community coaches. We believe this will be an important next step for the growth of the programme in the coming years.
As I did in Jordan, and Nepal, and many other places throughout our journey over the past six years, I look forward to getting involved on the pitch when the Generation Amazing programme officially kicks off in Qatar. Some of our many participants here in Qatar will once again get the incredible opportunity to play football with a legend of the game, who not only helped change the way FC Barcelona and Spain moved the ball, but also did it in a way which inspired millions of people.
It is this same inspirational effect of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar which we are passing on to young generations in the Middle East. One world class pass a time, towards a better future for Hadeel, Ashraf and many others of their generation.