Having just a glimpse during the training sessions of the best teams in the world, which are present at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, would be enough for anybody to clench their thirst for football and see the top footballers in the world prepare for the outstanding games in the competition.
But for some lucky youths, workers, volunteers or female footballers, the dream came true and they even got to meet their favourite stars at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, with the help of the diverse programmes organised by Community Events set up by the Local Organising Committee of Qatar.
Upon their arrival and during the tournament, 19 of the 32 qualified teams at Qatar 2022 took some time to meet with community groups of the host country to recognise their contributions and support them in the build-up of the “most exciting edition of the FIFA World Cup in history”, as it was dubbed by many.
The Community Engagement Events, presented to the 32 teams at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Team Workshop held in Doha in July, are an important element of the tournament’s Sustainability Strategy, and assist stars of the global game to leave an off-field legacy in Qatar by delivering lifelong memories and inspiration to the people they meet.
Canada was the first team to partake in the events, selecting the “coaching volunteers” programme, which meant having a special training session designed for some of the 20.000 volunteers at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which learnt a thing or two about football from the professionals
“Volunteers play a huge part in what we are able to do at this massive event on the world stage, and I am just happy that they are able to see us players and realise that we are just like them, that we are human, and that we have emotion and passion for the game. They are helping, and we are playing, but at the end of the day it is a unified effort to make Qatar 2022 a real, real special event,” said Canada’s midfielder, Mark-Anthony Kaye.
Qatar, the Korea Republic, Serbia, Costa Rica and Australia also met with various groups of volunteers, with a huge chance for them to exchange some passes or shoot some penalties against their idols at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Four other sides – the USA, England, the Netherlands and Argentina – all who made the Round of 16 at Qatar 2022, with the latter three sides also progressing to the quarter-finals, met with workers involved in the construction and management of the 2022 FIFA World Cup infrastructure.
“I think that when we are on the world stage and Qatar, it’s important to bring awareness to these issues, and that’s what Be the Change is about.”
“We recognize that Qatar has made strides and there has been a ton of progress, but there’s still some work to do. And it’s just about, Be the Change basically represents everyone’s individual opportunity to make a change and to have change start with them. So I think it’s appropriate that we have that here as well,” said United States coach, Gregg Berhalter.
Wales, Saudi Arabia, Spain, and Brazil opened their doors to the young leaders and change-makers of Generation Amazing, a movement of youth advocates, coaches, volunteers, and star players who use football to improve the world.
The results were clearly inspiring, as the young children flocked to see their favourites in Brazil’s camp.
Croatia and Germany met with aspiring female footballers from local academies and matched the players step for step in “freestyle challenge” events, while Morocco and Ghana faced off with amateur football players from their communities in Qatar.
Last, but not least, Mexico was unique in venturing outside their Team Base Camp to create football art alongside young fans at the Fire Station Museum near Al Bidda Park. Bleach white footballs became creative canvases and colourful splatter-art was made by kicking painted balls against a canvas target, giving new meaning to the term “football artistry”.