A growing passion of Qatar for the sport of padel on the eve of hosting the 2022 World Cup

Doha: a few meters from the Aspire Academy and the Khalifa International Stadium, which will host eight games of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, there is a special complex for the sport of padel, which attracts attention and is gaining increasing popularity among the people of the country. Smiling, Mohammed Saadoun Al-Kuwari points out the rest of the breakfast and lunch, which he had to eat in his office, from which he runs a special complex for padel sports, demonstrating his constant concern for the rapid growth of this. sport in Qatar. Al-Kuwari told AFP that he aspires to lead his country to occupy one of the top ten places in the world championship, which is currently taking place in Dubai (Qatar lost its first match against Paraguay 0-3) after being transferred from Doha due to what the International Badal Federation described as “some force majeure factors that prevented the Qatar Federation from organizing the event”. This transfer missed the expected public momentum, playing the 16th edition of the championship, for the second consecutive time, in Qatar, after Spain won the men’s and women’s titles in November 2021. “My family is the biggest victim,” says Al-Kuwari, one of the most followed sports hosts in Qatar, channels “BN Sports”, which spends long hours traveling between his work and the stadiums of the complex. Enormous passion – In his luxurious office, littered with padel rackets, tennis and trophies, Al-Kuwari, the former tennis player, is proud of the game’s popularity just five years after its launch in the summer of 2017, through his brother Khaled. , which created the first two outdoor courts in the private car parks of the Qatar Club in Doha. Al-Kuwari, ranked 159 in the world, remembers those days: “We used to come at five in the morning until we found time to play due to the density of reserves.” But did Badel, an affiliate of the Tennis Association, catch the attention of the country hosting the FIFA World Cup? Al-Kuwari smiles: “It is impossible to organize any other sporting event during the World Cup, because everyone will be watching football.” Al-Kuwari points out that 85% of padel players are from Qatar, “maybe that’s the only sport in which we see that Qatars are the majority. “Statistics indicate that Qatari citizens currently make up just over 10% of the total population, which according to an official census until the end of September amounted to 2,985,029 people. – The contribution of the pandemic – on the spread of badil, Al-Kuwari says: “I think we have been in able to build a community for this game in Qatar. “I have personally invested time and through my platforms social media (more than 3 million followers), but I believe there is another reason, which is Covid-19. The pandemic was another reason for the success of this sport. “The player who led Al Annabi to finally win gold at the 2022 Gulf Games also stops on the ease of the game. in Kuwait. Two against two. “Al-Kuwari, whose son was practicing padel during his speech, notes that the player is developing rapidly in this game: “I started with tennis at the age of six, but in Padel, during a whole year you can reach the intermediate level.” Successful investment – Padel sport in Qatar is seeing a huge turnout and its stadiums have transformed in very profitable investment projects, as statistics indicate that there are 300 stadiums. Another sign of the gas-rich country’s interest in Badel also emerged with the Qatar Sports Investments Company, led by Nasser Al-Khulaifi, which announced its support for the Badel Premiere Championship, which opened in Doha at the end of last March. organized by the International Game Federation. Mohammed says: “I think the total number of players between amateurs and professionals in Qatar is between 70 and 100,000. “The AFP was not in able to see the official data of the Qatar Tennis Federation. Al-Kuwari believes that the small area of the stadium has facilitated its diffusion, “200 square meters are enough to build a stadium”. Mohammed, the co-founder of one of the Al Badel Private Ventures in Doha, has the feeling that he is leading the game both technically and as an investment. His eyes sparkle when he says that he aspires to establish “the most successful and greatest franchise in the world”. (AFP)