Posted on February 13, 2019

The biggest annual sport festival in Qatar saw thousands of people descend on Aspire Zone Foundation’s (AZF) unique outdoor and indoor facilities to explore and enjoy the wide range of activities offered by the beating heart of sport in Qatar and the place where Qatar’s Asian Cup players learnt to be champions.

This year, February is no longer just a month of sport, it has been crowned the month of sporting triumphs after Qatar’s historical achievement in the 2019 Asian Cup. In a 2019 exclusive, this year’s sporting festival was honoured by the presence of the Amir of Qatar His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. Personal Representative of HH the Amir, His Excellency Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani also attended Aspire Zone, where he learned about Sambo – a Russian martial art – which was on display to the public on outdoor football pitch no 10. His Excellency was joined by the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Qatar H.E. Mr. Nurmakhmad Kholov.

AZF’s National Sport Day (NSD) celebrations were attended by more than 30,000 people of all ages. Qatar’s community members, families and children enjoyed 30 sporting events across Aspire’s world-class venues: outdoor Football Pitch 10, Aspire Dome and Aspire park. Every corner of Aspire Zone was occupied with a sporting event.

Starting NSD with the iconic activity the Fun Run

Qatar’s NSD at Aspire begun with the famous Fun Run. The starting whistle was blown by Director General of Aspire Logistics, Abdullah Nasser Al-Naemi in the presence of AZF’s CEO, Mr. Mohammed Khalifa Al-Suwaidi who was accompanied by of hundreds of running enthusiasts. The Fun Run covered an area of 3km around Khalifa International Stadium. 

Aspire Zone- Qatar’s Sport Hub

Following the Fun Run, Aspire Zone’s staff participated in a walk around Aspire’s lake. It was headed by President of Aspire Zone Foundation, Hilal bin Jaham al-Kuwari, CEO of Aspire Zone Foundation, Mr. Mohammed Khalifa Al-Suwaidi, Director General of Aspire Logistics, Abdulla Nasser Al- Naemi, Deputy Director General of the Academy Mr. Ali Salem Afifa, and Acting CEO of Aspetar Mr. Abdelaziz Al-Kuwari. The 2 km walk around the lake included stops at various stations along the walk-pathway at which the officials conducted exercises that were led by professional trainers from Aspire Active.  

CEO of Aspire Zone Foundation, Mohammad Khalifa Al-Suwaidi: “This year, we can clearly see the wisdom of the nation’s leaders in dedicating a national day for sport. February is now linked to sport victories after the amazing achievement of our national football team, which was of course led by Aspire academy graduates. The Qatari team has been making headlines across the world for the past few days. This indicates that the efforts of everyone at Aspire Zone have now paid off. This success is not only related to its sate of the art facilities at Aspire but it is also due to the expertise of its staff who’ve invested a lot in building the current generation of Qatari champions. I expect that this generation will change the face of sport in Qatar and Asia".

He continued: "As a favourite sport destination, we are very aware that people expect a lot from us on the National Sport Day. We spare no effort to fulfil their trust. Through our activities, we want to send a message to members of the community that this day is an opportunity to renew minds and bodies and spend quality time with families and friends".

Abdulla Nasser Al- Naemi, Director General of Aspire Logistics: "This day is the biggest sport festival in Qatar. Although this day is celebrated in every corner of the country, the activities of Aspire are very special. On National Sport Day, Aspire literally turns into the largest space for activities in the country, attracting more than 30,000 participants this year. “What you see today in terms of good organisation, the variety of activities and dedication of all the logistical and human resources to serve our visitors is not accidental. It is a result of hundreds of hours of planning and preparation to organise this event in a way that reflects the place of Aspire Zone at the heart the community.”

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Deputy Director General of Aspire Academy, Ali Salem Afifa: "This year, the national sport day at Aspire Academy is unique and different from all the previous visions. This is because it coincides with our celebrations with the biggest victory in the history of sport in Qatar, the wining of the Asian Cup led by graduates of Aspire Academy. Everyone now wants to explore the academy and its programs and get to know the secret of the achievement made by our graduates. Thus, we expect to welcome a great number of fans who are eager to participate in our wide range of activities which reflect the variety of sports available at the academy. And perhaps the next Qatar star will be among our young visitors today!”

Aspetar’s Acting Director General, Dr. Abdul Aziz Al Kuwari: "There are unknown soldiers who worked day and night to deliver an amazing sport day at Aspire Zone. Similarly, Aspetar staff work behind the scene to help sport stars to perform at their best and allow them to unlock their potential. We are not only providing support to world-beating athletes, we are also raising people’s awareness about health. There is no better day than the national sport day to raise the awareness of our community. We do this by organising innovative activities that combine both entertainment and education, such as Scandinavian walking. This activity is not just a recreational sport but also a therapeutic one that activates all the inert muscles of the body. It is just one example of our philosophy to make the sport day a fun event, and at the same time making use of it to educate community members about healthy lifestyles.”

Chairman of AZF’s NSD Organizing Committee, Mr. Nasser Abdullah Al-Hajiri: "Aspire Zone today has become a bee cell serving the Qatari community. Yet again it has opened its doors and facilities to all members of the community for them to learn about its capabilities and expertise, which are unrivalled anywhere in the world. Every year, Aspire Zone invites families and friends to enjoy the sport day and try a new sporting experience. It hopes people might develop an interest in a particular sport, and then it becomes a daily habit. In such a way, Aspire Zone can fulfil one of its strategic objectives which goes in line with Qatar National Vision 2030 to modernise the country and transform it into a sustainable society capable of providing the highest standards of living for its citizens by building generations of physically and psychologically healthy people. Sport is absolutely playing a crucial role in achieving this. I would like to thank the main sponsors of this year's events Qatar Gas and Ideal Solutions, as well as the event's partners: QAFAC, KidZania Doha, Assil, Ali Bin Ali Holding Group and Baladna.

New Russian sport a big hit on with the community

At football pitch number 10, the International Sambo Federation (FIAS) with general partner Rosneft, a leading Russian oil company, hosted a successful ‘Sambo’ Russian martial art event. It took place in the presence of the Ambassador of the State of Qatar to the Russian Federation, H.E Fahad bin Mohammed Al-Attiyah, the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Qatar H.E., Mr. Nurmakhmad Kholov, and FIAS president Mr. Vasily Shestakov.

His Excellency Fahad bin Mohammed Al-Attiyah, Ambassador of State of Qatar to the Russian Federation said: “The introduction of Sambo sport during our National Sport Day is further testament to the value of cultural exchange between Qatar and Russia. We are pleased to have seen our communities actively engage in this unique aspect of Russian sport and look forward to continued collaboration between our two nations.” His Excellency Mr. Nurmakhmad Kholov, the Russian Ambassador to Qatar, said: “Today I was honoured to witness a wide variety of events, which attracted thousands of people. Aspire is an excellent sporting hub for local community members and expatriates. I’m impressed that Qatar is so dedicated to promoting healthy and active lifestyles – and that it does so by hosting a National Sport Day, something that is unique in the world.”

Sambo, literally meaning self-defence without weapons, is a unique martial art and combative sport that was created by the Russian Federation in 1920. It is based on the mixture of all combative sports around the world.

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A world of family-friendly activities at football pitch 10

Careful planning was done since the very first day by the AZF’s NSD planning committee to ensure a dedicated ambiance for families and children. A huge range of family-friendly activities took place around football pitch number 10. These included: wall climbing, Thai boxing, Taekwondo, boxing, high/low intensity training sessions, fitness classes, Moroccan Sports Corner, team building activities, fitness shows and Japanese Kendo Demonstrations.

Nordic walk around Aspire’s Lake

At 11am, the 45-minute Nordic walk, which was organised for the third consecutive year, started from behind Burgeri restaurant and saw a large public participation. Nordic Walking is a ‘total body’ version of walking that can be enjoyed by non-athletes as a healthy physical activity. Accredited trainers from Aspetar took participants through a number of educational stations.

Wall Climbing

The events of the NSD in Aspire Zone are launched under the close supervision of sports experts. Children from 5 years of age participated in training activities to learn mountain climbing skills that require clear focus and high level of fitness.

Female-only events at Aspire Dome

This year, AZF dedicated a secure and private sports zone for females only, held with an aim to consolidate healthy and active lifestyle within the female community in Qatar regardless of their age. Since 10 am, Aspire Dome opened its doors for women and girls to participate in a variety of events in a fully covered hall, and activities included: gymnastics, badminton, basketball and aerobics.

Activities at Aspire Dome - challenge yourself

Aspire Dome hosted a variety of activities for families, including running, hammer throwing, plyometric challenges, and a 200-meter bike race. Such activities offer a diverse and rewarding set of challenges for all ages, increasing endurance, strength and flexibility. Aspire Dome also witnessed a range of family fitness exercises that help people of different ages to strengthen their muscles. In addition, football players tested their skills such as shot accuracy and tackling the ball.

Local entities choose Aspire Zone as their preferred NSD celebration venue

AZF made its outdoor and indoor world-class facilities available to host more than 37 local government and private entities for their National Sport Day celebration. Organisations that have chosen Aspire Zone as their NSD partner this year include: The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, National Human Rights Committee, Qatargas, Qatar Fuel Additives Company (QAFAC), General Administration for Drug Control from the Ministry of Interior, KEO international consultants, Gulf Laboratories, Al-Taadhod Group, Ninja Vigor Sport Center, Kaged sports, Sports Corner, Ideal Solutions, Medgulf Construction, Electro City, and Planet Medical Center. In addition, a number of charitable entities and those dedicated to social causes also celebrated at Aspire – including Qatar Social Work Foundation, Qatar Institute for Speech and Hearing and Qatar’s Autism Centre & Special Needs.

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