When football and values brings people together
In the lobby of Sultan Qaboos School in Masat there’s a photo of Ali al Habsi, the first player from the Persian Gulf to play for a professional European team (he currently plays for Wigan Athletic). He is a source of pride for a country that kicked off its first ever professional league this year.
Each Monday and Wednesday 120 children of ages 8 to 15 play ‘FutbolNet’ on the fields of the the school. Said, Khalid, Sultan and Mohamed are four of the participants. “We make new friends here,” says Sultan, who admits that he likes to watch Barça TV on beIN Sports. The four youngsters work alongside their team-mates in the determination mini-game, where they have to dribble a ball as they hold a glass of water. The goal of the game is not to spill the water. “We always use determination when we’re in school or playing football,” says Khalid.
‘FutbolNet’ doesn’t just attract children, it also attracts adults. Mohamed Abdullah and Suliman Abdullah are the first Oman-born athletes to participate in the Olympics. They featured in the Los Angeles Games in 1984. “We like these types of projects and we want to apply this philosophy to the games our children play in the neighborhood,” they say.
80 kilometers outside of Mascate is the city of Barka, where ‘FutbolNet’ also has a presence. Thani Hamdan, father of one of the participants in the program, says that his son “didn’t get good grade but since he started up with ‘FutbolNet’ his grades have improved.” He adds: “They teach children how to work together, and that is very important. When he grows up he will be a good person who will be able to improve himself.”