Famous international footballers have teamed up with the corporate world to bring a taste of the Premier League to Qatar and give back to the local community while they’re at it. Jessica Bailey Ackerman finds out more.
A new quarterly event has been making waves in the sporting and charity worlds in Doha as it merges the love of football with a passion for giving back to the community. Since the city became home to the world renowned Al Jazeera network and BeIn Sports, we’ve seen an influx of famous former footballers and broadcasters come to our shores including the ‘Dynamic Duo’ of Richard Keys and renowned football analyst Andy Gray.
The Duo has teamed up with a number of other visiting football professionals and financial consultancy firm Guardian Wealth Management to host what is to be fondly known as ‘The Rough Guide to the Premier and Champions League’ at the Doha Golf Club in aid of Qatar-based charities. This month, the guests include none other than Alan Shearer, the England striker and top goal scorer in Premier League history, alongside a few other ‘surprise visitors’.
A similar event was held during the 2014 FIFA World Cup and played host to retired English goal scorer Clive Allen (Arsenal, Crystal Palace) and former Irish forward Frank Stapleton (Arsenal, Manchester United). It was hosted in the On The Green Corporate Pavillion at the Doha Golf Club and raised an impressive QR14,000 for the Qatar Cancer Society through vouchers, raffles and an auction which offered shirts signed by Argentinean Diego Maradona and Brazilian Pelé.
A spokesperson from the Qatar Cancer Society told us it is very grateful for the continued community support it receives, particularly from Guardian Wealth and the Doha Golf Club. ‘The money is always used wisely and makes a difference to the lives of people in Qatar battling cancer.’
This new version of the concept, in association with Grand Hyatt Doha, is scheduled for September 18 and is set to run in the same format with a panel of football professionals discussing the state of the Premier League and Champions League, their assessment of what has happened so far, what they predict will happen and who they deem as stand out players. There will also be a question-and-answer session giving fans the opportunity to talk to the players as well as the all-important raffle and auction of sought-after football memorabilia.
A portion of the proceeds from this event will this time go to Qatar Animal Welfare Society, among others which at the time of going to press had not been announced. QAWS representative Lisa Parkin said the association also appreciates the support as it is donations like these that keep the charity going. ‘Just our basic monthly running costs, before we even get to the medical care, costs QR50,000,’ she explains. ‘At the moment we are living month to month and the community support is what gets us through.’
No matter what position you’re in here, it’s always important to help the local community says Guardian Wealth Management CEO and avid football fan David Russell. ‘Regardless of the time you plan to spend in Qatar, especially if you have been here for decades, you have to try to see it as your home and do what you can to assist in its development and expansion.’ With David at the fore, the company has been hosting frequent events at the Doha Golf Club with much more of a focus on community, alongside initiatives at Qatar Academy to teach students working world interview techniques and contributions to the Hamad Medical Corporation’s mobile blood drive.
With that same sentiment in mind, Doha-based anchor Richard Keys also tells us, ‘Wherever our career takes us, Andy and I always like to give back to the local community. Qatar has been good to us, so we like to reciprocate that generosity.’
Free. Thursday, September 18. To attend the event email email@example.com or visit www.gwm-intl.com for more information. There is no entrance fee but you’re recommended to arrive early to get a seat.
Alan Shearer - What you need to know
Before he arrives at the Grand Hyatt Doha this month, get the lowdown on a legend.
• He was an England striker 1992-2000.
• Named all time Premier League top scorer.
• Played for Southampton, Blackburn and Newcastle.
• Turned down Manchester United to join his boyhood favourites.
• He has been active in charities throughout his career including raising over GBP300,000 for The Alan Shearer Centre, a specialist facility for people with complex disabilities and sensory impairements.