Posted on February 11, 2015

Aspire Zone Foundation’s (AZF) National Sport Day activities kicked off in an energetic and joyous atmosphere as huge numbers of sport and physical activity enthusiasts headed over to Aspire Zone early on Tuesday.

Families and individuals of all nationalities, ages and fitness levels turned out to take part in the various NSD events announced early by Aspire Zone in fulfilment of the NSD goal of encouraging the nationals and expatriates to take up a more active and healthy lifestyle. The NSD celebration saw a prominent participation of three Qatari ministers, who chose to start their sport day from Aspire Zone. They are HE Minister of Youth and Sports Mr. Salah bin Ghanem bin Nasser Al Ali, HE Minister of Energy and Industry Dr. Mohammed bin Saleh Al-Sada and HE Minister of Public Health Mr. Abdulla bin Khalid Al Qahtani.

The wide range of sport events and competitions designed for all social segments and age groups spurned thousands of families into action throughout the day despite the dusty weather.

Aspire Zone Foundation CEO, Mr. Khalid Abdullah Al Sulaiteen said: “I am extremely happy to see this large number of people who came to Aspire Zone early morning to engage enthusiastically in sport activities during the day. This proves the success of the NSD concept, which the wise leadership had initiated and supported strongly with the purpose of encouraging all people to exercise anywhere throughout the year. This further emphasizes the community’s passion for sports and physical activity as well as willingness to be given real opportunities to exercise. Aspire Zone has been working to achieve this, and I think today’s large turnout speaks our success.”

1. “Family Cycling,” Joint Initiative by Aspire Zone and Ministry of Youth and Sports
Minister of Youth and Sports, French Ambassador and
Qatar Cycling Federation Head Ride First Bikes

The special “Family Cycling” event was launched by HE Minister of Youth and Sport Mr. Salah bin Ghanem bin Nasser Al Ali, Aspire Zone Foundation CEO Mr. Khalid Abdullah Al Sulaiteen, French Ambassador to Doha and Qatar Cycling Federation Head Mr. Khalid bin Ali Al Thani.

“The National Sport Day is one of Qatar's important initiatives. It shows our wise leadership’s interest in the health of the coming generations. It is an attempt to encourage our community to embrace sport by turning it into a daily activity for the citizens and residents alike,” said the Minister of Youth and Sports. “The Ministry of Youth and Sports is keen on having a positive participation in this distinctive day, which serves the important goal of promoting healthy lifestyles and educating the community about the importance of taking care of their health and fitness. In light of that, the Ministry is working on turning sport into a permanent culture in our society, not just a one-day event” added the minister.

Speaking about “Family Cycling,” the Minister said: “It is an initiative that brings all family members together to engage in sport in exciting and funny way.” The Minister, who came along with his family to celebrate the Sport Day at Aspire, went on to say: “I myself exercise sport everyday by simply walking. Walking is a good sport for all ages.” Speaking about his participation in the event, HE Sheikh Khalid bin Ali Al Thani, Qatar Cycling Federation Head, said: “We are very happy with the development that sport has seen in our country. When the Sport Day first came to light, a limited number of places were celebrating it, but now you see everyone celebrating everywhere. However, Aspire Zone continues to be exceptional for organizing activities for all types of sport.”

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2. The Fun Run attracts large turnout…More than 2.000 people took part!

Mr. Khalid Abdullah Al Sulaiteen, Aspire Zone Foundation CEO, launched the NSD events by firing the fog horn to start the 3km “Fun Run” race. More than two thousand individuals and families came along with their children in order to educate them about the importance of sports and encourage them to adopt healthy lifestyle.

The first participant to cross the finishing line course was 32-year-old Ahmad Al-Sabbar from Morocco. “I am very happy to be here in Aspire Zone. I came in to Qatar three months ago, just to make my first appearance in the ‘Fun Run’. Participants from Europe, Ethiopia, Kenya and Algeria made the race highly competitive and gave me the impression that I was in an international competition.” Said Al-Sabbar. “The most impressive thing about this event is the amazing facilities that I ran around at Aspire Zone. I will absolutely take part in next year’s fun run.” he added.

Among the families that completed the course of the ‘Fun Run’ was the UK family of Adrian James, who expressed his joy to take part in the run along with his two little kids. “The race was well organized, and I think everyone cheered over children on. I enjoyed the race although it wasn't easy with my kids. I had to alternate between carrying them sometimes and jogging up to the finishing line. Overall, it was an interesting experience.” said James. The fun run also saw the participation of amputee Chris Arthey, who is one of the most prominent Fun Run participants. "The number of participants is really great, and I am particularly impressed by the number of companies that got groups together; so it is obviously becoming very popular with company groups.” Arthey said.

"It is my second time to join the Fun Run, but I have had the Doha Dash here at Aspire, I have done the Standard Charter at Aspire, I did the Aquathon Series and the GMC TriSeries, so I know Aspire Zone very well,” Arthey added. Asked about his impression about Aspire Zone facilities, Arthey said: “The facilities that Aspire Zone boasts are amazing. I come from England, and before we come in here we spent 5 years in America, and I had never seen sports facilities like this.”

Commenting on the large turnout, Mr. Al Sulaiteen said: “In fact, the number was really surprising to us. Although we had about 1.000 people registered for the race, we had more than 2.000 people willing to participate. The main idea of the race was that there would be no winner because we wanted all people of different ages to get involved in the activity. So anyone taking part would be considered winner.”

3. Al Sulaiteen Presents Token of Remembrance to Al-Sada….Public Health Minister tours at Aspire Zone

Aspire Zone Foundation CEO, Mr. Khalid Abdullah Al Sulaiteen paid a cordial visit to HE Minister of Energy and Industry Dr. Mohammed bin Saleh Al-Sada during his tour at the companies celebrating at Aspire Zone. During the visit, Mr. Al Sulaiteen presented the minister with a gift as a token of remembrance. On the other hand, HE Minister of Public Health Mr. Abdulla bin Khalid Al Qahtani visited the location of the Supreme Health Council employees as they celebrated the NSD at Aspire Zone.

4. Ladies Enjoy an Enthusiastic Morning with Zumba Classes

Aspire Active had a special plan this year for the National Sport Day. Activities started at 8 a.m. and continued till 12 p.m. Special activities were held for ladies and kids aged 3-5 years. This year came with a special gift for the participants as registration was open to friends and families of the members of the program who were given a chance to live an experience full of fun and enjoyment. The activities started with Zumba Fiesta where dancing classes were held for participants who enjoyed Arab, Latin and western music. The classes continued for an hour with participation from 200 ladies and girls.

Other activities included the Boot Camp where 150 persons participated in the different sports and exercises organized by the program. For the convenience of female participants and mothers, a special place was dedicated to kids to give them their own fun of the day. Aspire Active’s children-specific activities were provided by female specialized instructors. The participating ladies and girls said that this year’s celebration is more organized and that they enjoyed it. They also asked for a bigger dedicated space to accommodate all the ladies and girls willing to participate, and wanted to see similar events on other occasions like the National Day and during Ramadan’s events.

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5. Synchronized Swimming Draws High Turnout

Aspire Zone extended an exceptional invitation this year to girls who love swimming to live an exciting, untraditional experience in the water. This year Aspire Zone introduced synchronized swimming for the first time in Doha on the occasion of the National Sport Day. There were two sessions open to girls, one at 9 a.m. to girls aged 8-11 years and the other at 3 p.m. to girls aged 12-16 years.

"I'm very happy to know about this sport. I exercise swimming, but synchronized swimming has a special taste. It mixes sport with music in a very exciting way,” said Nawar, 11 years.

6. Beach Soccer Brings Special Excitement and Fun

The beach soccer tournament was organized in a very exciting atmosphere with an unprecedented participation. Advice and help was provided by Aspire’s instructors to participating teams. The fierce tournament kicked off on the dedicated sand pitch at Aspire early morning at 9 a.m. with 12 teams competing together. Excitement, challenge and enthusiasm were dominating the games as some teams had young promising and talented players. Each team included 5 players and three substitutes and the game ran for 24 minutes. The tournament ended at 2:30 p.m.

“The tournament was open to all persons over the 14 years of age. It aimed at getting people exercise sport in line with the objectives of the National Sport Day. The tournament also comes to promote beach soccer in Qatar, especially that it is a sport that does not need many resources. It only needs a sand pitch and five players to make up a team. Additionally, injuries in this sport are far less than injuries in football,” said Mr. Abbas Ibrahim, organizer of the tournament.

This is the second time a beach soccer tournament is organized. The first time was two years ago as last year was dedicated to beach volleyball. “It is true that I had hard luck and lost the game, but I personally enjoyed taking part in the tournament. I’m used to playing football, but beach soccer is a new unique experience. The place is really beautiful and the tournament was open to all age groups,” said Ahmed al-Saadi, one of the participating players.

7. Aspire Zone’s Activities Attract Participants of All Age Groups

Aspire Dome was a big hive of activity with many events open to the public to celebrate the National Sport Day. Participants of all age groups came to the indoor football pitch to take part in the Football Performance and Science Activity. The activity included a number of football exercises like shooting and running with the ball. Aspire Zone’s professional coaches supervised the activity and gave basic skills exercises to participants using sophisticated technologies.

Aspire Dome hosted other activities, including the Skills Development Program, which is a sport workshop in which professional coaches train groups of five members on various skills like running, throwing and handling the ball. “Such exercises develop students’ skills through various sports. They also create nervous muscular balance in the participants,” said Coach Murad al-Arqash. Elsewhere in Aspire Dome, Aspire Academy organized its activities on the indoor athletics track which hosted four competitions: running, throwing, vertical jumping and cycling. Participants took part in the activities and Aspire Academy's instructors recorded their numbers using most advanced technologies.

“This is the second time for me to come to Aspire Zone to participate in the National Sport Day. This year's activities and events are new and more organized. I love to play all types of sport, but my passion goes for football," said Sadiq Mamdouh, one of the participants. 

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