Qatar has delivered one of the most profitable FIFA World Cups to date and at the same time will boast of leaving a lasting legacy on the game in Qatar and beyond. GOALS is part of the farsighted legacy program of the World Cup which spotlights the lives of people who work in Qatar. I travelled to Doha and attended the final GOALS Exhibition.
In the words of Matthew Barrett, founder of Goal Click, “There has been so much criticism and debate surrounding the 2022 FIFA World Cup, that we have forgotten about the positive voices of people who live in Qatar and the impact World Cup has had on them. We are in Doha working on a project in collaboration with Qatar Foundation, Generation Amazing, Salam Stores and The Sports Creative. GOALS has been a year-long storytelling series where people who live and work in Qatar have documented their life, their work, and the football culture in the run-up to the FIFA World Cup. A hugely diverse range of people men and women, workers, students, and the results are in the exhibition here.”
Brooke Reid, manager of engagement and activation at Qatar Foundation adds, “GOALS program is a storytelling program designed to highlight the stories of young people across Qatar from different backgrounds and different nationalities. We have storytellers from 20 different countries through photography, written words, and public speaking and engaging and sharing their experiences with people. We have students, volunteers, and footballers who are taking part and sharing what football means to them.
Reem Al-Haddad who is a Data Scientist, photographer, and filmmaker is a passionate fan and her work has been featured in the GOALS program. Reem has narrated her football journey and of supporting the Qatari national team through her photographs. Ian Edward Wright MBE, an English television and radio personality and former professional footballer recently appreciated her photography skills too across his social media handles.
She tells me, “I am very passionate about football and 16 photos clicked by me are on display at the exhibition. My favourite photo (below) is of my cousin and sibling playing football in Souk Al Wakhra, an old souk in Qatar that has many historical places. It depicts the old houses made of mud in Qatar and the traditional architecture with alleys and lawns.”
Another exhibitor I spoke with was Shivi Mishra who works for the Supreme Committee as a Logistics Project Officer. Shivi tells the story of her life as a “third culture kid” and moving to Qatar from India, her history of volunteering, and her dream to work at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
She says, “I was born in Lucknow and studied in Delhi but then have been here in the Gulf for the past 25 years. Ever since we won the bid, I have been looking forward to tell my footballing journey where I started with volunteering and now work for the Supreme Committee. I enjoy clicking pictures of anything and everything and this picture ( below) is my favourite as it is a very passionate picture. This girl was very far from the match ground but she still kept cheering and didn’t give up. All these pictures are an apt representation of what Qatar is all about.”
Joe Hewitt, CEO of The Sports Creative spoke about the partnership, “The Sports Creative have been involved from the start as one of the partners, so Goal Click and The Sports Creative have delivered this [GOALS] together, and we were brought in for our community approach. We work with communities across the world, and although we are a storytelling and sports organisation, the word ‘creative’ is very intended within that – we believe in creativity, and we believe in storytelling.
“We will be carrying on telling those stories with coaches next year, so this exhibition is a time capsule of the year of the FIFA World Cup, but these stories live on. Next year we will be working with coaches on and off the field to share their stories and really focus on activities around physical, social, and mental wellbeing. Activities that will help to build confidence with each of these coaches.”
As for these stories making an impact in the real world, Joe says, “There have been a number of opportunities. But first and foremost, it’s the skills learning journey, whether it be in education with some of our younger storytellers or in their professional life. We brought in experts to work on storytelling and hosted a workshop where each participant contributed their stories, looking back on their heritage, challenges they have overcome and goals in their lives, and it was a very powerful process. But also looking at basic skills of photography, skills of how to capture video which are becoming more important in the workplace. It was a personal journey for the participants.
“One of our Ghanaian storytellers was attending a game at Education City and saw the video she made on the screen by the metro station. For her to see her creativity given this platform, with her friends is incredibly powerful. It was a moment of huge pride for her.”