Sports and Social Responsibility, an amazing effort

I am pretty set on having the World Cup in the U.S. in 2022. May seem like a long way off but the decision to pick a host is much sooner, December of this year. As our bid slogan says it all – The Game is in US.

However, despite this overwhelming desire to see the tournament here, I recognize there are citizens in other parts of the world who may be equally or even more desirous of seeing the world’s biggest sporting event in their home country.

Qatar, one of the competing countries for the 2022 World Cup, has put together a tremendous bid. A special part of the bid is the commitment to social responsibility. Focused on sport and development across five nations, the effort is committed to providing a foundation for healthy and happy individuals. One of the key elements of that foundation is self-esteem. In troubling times in challenging areas, young people especially are apt to question who they are and their value. “Why are these things happening to me? What did I do wrong?” What the Qatar programs and similar ones do is show them they deserve fun, a healthy life, and to feel good about themselves. And soccer/football certainly does all that.

You can find the full description of the bid’s SR efforts by clicking here, with an excerpt provided below.

Spanning across five Asian nations, Generation Amazing is one of our most ambitious social responsibility and football development initiatives. The project grew out of our bid’s commitment to developing football in under-served communities, and to using sports to encourage health, self-esteem and the strong mental development of young people, while reinforcing the long-term benefits of participation in sports. The program offered kids from Lebanon, Nepal, Pakistan, Syria and Qatar the opportunity to travel to South Africa to soak up the World Cup atmosphere, attend a match between Brazil and North Korea, and play football with children from South Africa, as well as a number of other activities…

In the end, the trip was about letting the kids see the opportunities that were available to them through hard work. One particular moment stuck with us. After visiting a mini-amusement park at a mall in Doha, one of the students from Pakistan told a chaperone, “I’m so happy I came. I know I’ll never see anything like this ever again in my life.” This was followed by a stern talking-to, as the chaperone explained that it was possible for Pakistan to develop to the same level as Qatar, and he should not so easily assume that it would not. Football, after all, is an aspirational sport, and the impulse to improve at football is the same impulse that stirs communities to develop, using whatever resources they have at hand.