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Students of the Game

More than six months ahead of the FIFA World Cup™ final, students from a Qatar Foundation school brought their own twist on the sporting showpiece to a conclusion – in one of the tournament venues.

The Qatar Academy Doha Road to 2022 competition saw students from kindergarten to Grade 5 represent 10 teams from the nations who qualified for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ – and go on a journey that stretched beyond sports and into wellness, social interaction, and cultural discovery.

With the players on each team learning about the culture of the nation they represented during the tournament, and acting as ambassadors for their ‘adopted’ countries, the tournament also helped students reconnect with each other after the COVID-19 pandemic forced them to study remotely.

And with the finals of the competition taking place in the Education City Stadium in June 2022, it meant the young footballers had the opportunity to get a taste of what awaited the best players in the world later in the year.

"Participating in this tournament has helped us become more prepared to help host the World Cup as a society."

Al-Anoud Al-Thani, Grade 5 studentQatar Academy Doha

1,080 matches were played during the Qatar Academy Doha Road to 2022 competition

Schooled in Sports

Away from the pitch and into the classroom, teachers at QF schools encouraged their students to develop a love of football – and recognize its value to learning and life – by weaving sports-centered activities into their classes through the Football for Schools (F4S) program. 

In March 2022, QF and Generation Amazing – the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy’s (SC) human and social legacy project – sealed an agreement to roll out F4S in schools across Qatar. Run globally by FIFA and UNESCO, it aims to educate, develop, and empower children and make football more accessible to both boys and girls, by incorporating the sport into education systems. 

Ahead of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, F4S training courses at QF saw teachers from Qatar joined by compatriots from countries including Lebanon, Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia as they learned how to deliver the program in their schools and use it to educate students about life skills and life lessons. 

As Muhammed Saleh, a PE teacher at QF’s Awsaj Academy, explained: “It has helped our students become more enthusiastic about football, and this has had a positive effect on their physical and social abilities, improving skills such as patience, trust, and reliability.” 

"We look forward to working together over the coming months and years on many common projects, and particularly to deliver Football for Schools in Qatar."

Gianni InfantinoPresident of FIFA

F4S aims to support the education and development of 700 million children worldwide

A Different Class

Football fever was on the curriculum in QF schools throughout 2022– as teachers used the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ to bring a new dimension to learning. 

At Renad Academy – a QF school that helps children with autism – accessibility toolkits developed by the school and QF’s The Learning Center as part of the SC’s online, interactive education platform Tamreen helped children learn about the World Cup, its impact on Qatar, and how football connects to Qatari culture and heritage, while students designed a commemorative sustainable football bench and created their own songs, tickets, and ‘matchday experience’ for friendly football games.

Meanwhile, young learners at QF’s Qatar Leadership Academy (QLA) explored sport through a of global citizenship lens, looking at how the cultures of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 nations resemble and differ from their own.

“At the heart of the World Cup and sports education are lessons of tolerance, global mindedness, and respecting other cultures, which we are trying to impart to our students by using football as a tool for learning,” said QLA Lead Teacher Khalaf S. Al-Merekhi.

"Students benefit enormously when we’ve incorporated football into learning at QF schools – living in the host country of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 is one of the most defining moments in their young lives."

Sara H. Al-HajriAssistant Director of Talent Development, QF’s Education Development Institute

More than 4,000 students were engaged in QF’s World Cup activations

Learning Through Football

From geography and art to writing and math, football played its part in the learning experience for students at QF’s Qatar Academy Sidra – who were set tasks such as calculating the distance between FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ stadiums and how many spectators they hold, analyzing the design of tournament posters, and making their own trophy using recycled materials.

The ‘Units of Inquiry’ learning stream at Qatar Academy Al Wakra challenged students to understand football’s impact and value on their lives, while Qatar Academy Al Khor taught its Grade 6-10 students about football history and what the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ has already meant, and will mean, for Qatar.

And Qatar Academy Msheireb, also part of QF’s Pre-University Education, organized Football Fever, a series of events supporting learning outcomes in physical education, performing and visual arts, language, and innovation, as well as its own World Cup-style football tournament; while around 80 Qatar Academy Doha students performed ‘Goal’, a musical production focusing on the debate on whether the sport should be called “football” or “soccer”.

"It just makes school that much more fun and something, like the World Cup, we all look forward to."

Fatima Saad MohannadiGrade 10 student at Qatar Academy Al Khor

Flying the Flag

Stepping onto the same turf as football’s superstars in front of a packed stadium is a childhood dream for many – and Qatar’s youth had the chance to live it at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ thanks to QF and Wanda Group, the Chinese conglomerate and FIFA Partner.

Through an ongoing partnership between the two organizations, young participants in QF’s CommuniSport programs had the chance to be Wanda FIFA Flag Bearers during the tournament – carrying the FIFA flag onto the pitch before matches kicked off.

Wanda FIFA Flag Bearers were also chosen from Qatar schools who submitted their poems to the D’reesha Arabic Poetry Competition – launched by QF with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education in the run-up to the 2022 edition of QF’s D’reesha Performing Arts Festival – and participants in QF and Generation Amazing’s Women’s Football Initiative, as well as Freestyle Football workshops at QF schools.

And 24 young people from QF’s sport and community programs who acted as matchday ball crew during October’s Street Child World Cup at Education City were specially chosen as Flag Bearers at a FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 match, as a reward for their volunteering efforts.

267 QF youth – 35 per cent of whom were Qatari - participated in the Wanda FIFA Flag Bearer program

The Wanda/QF partnership provided opportunities for young people to:

  • Be Flag Bearers
  • Join pre-game tunnel activations & meet players
  • Meet teams at training sessions

"It was an honor because I knew for the rest of my life that I was part of one of the biggest events in the country."

Abdulla Mohammed Al-SulaitiQatar Academy Doha student and Wanda FIFA Flag Bearer

Designed for Impact

World Cup vibes reverberated around QF’s partner universities – including Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar (VCUarts Qatar), where fashion design students creating sports-inspired clothing reflecting the culture of Qatar and the region were paid a visit by football icon David Beckham. 

Seven of the students’ designs were selected to be made into prototypes and showcased before and after the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ as part of a wider initiative to design and develop apparel that encourages more women and girls in the region to embrace sports and physical activity. 

VCUarts Qatar alumni were also making their mark on the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, with Aisha Al-Ziani performing on ‘Hayya (Better Together)’, one of the singles from the tournament’s official soundtrack and fellow alumna Saadia Khabab designing and creating the costumes for its video and live performance; while Bouthayna Al Muftah designed the tournament’s official poster – celebrating football fandom in the Arab world by depicting the traditional headwear worn by Qatari men being thrown into the air. 

"Using their own personal creative vision, each student has transformed traditional clothing into a unique expression of celebration and movement for a World Cup hosted by Qatar."

Christopher FinkFashion Design Department Chair, VCUarts Qatar

Experience and Opportunity

As the world’s media descended on Doha for the tournament, QF partner university Northwestern University in Qatar’s students and alumni were part of the action and gaining invaluable career experience and insights, as they interned with organizations such as Fox Sports and CNN as well as supporting the coverage of Al Kass Sports Channel and the delivery of Qatar’s public safety communications strategy.

And dozens of students, staff, and faculty at fellow partner university Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar (CMU-Q) lent their time and talents to help make the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ a success, working as volunteers in fields ranging from logistics to fan experience, and contributing to the health and safety operation within the tournament’s stadiums.

The tournament also opened up internship opportunities with FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ sponsors for CMU-Q students such as Ravshanbek Salimov, who is studying business administration and said: “It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to contribute to the World Cup – I am excited to be part of it.”

170 students from QF universities undertook media internships across Qatar during the World Cup through the FIFA Broadcast Legacy Internship Program