The Organising Committee of the 24th Men’s Handball World Championship will be aiming for unprecedented success as they prepare for the huge challenge of organising Qatar’s first senior team sport world championship.
Qatar promised to organise an event that will set the standards in organising World Handball Championships around the world in the future.
The Organising Committee is putting the final touches on the Official Draw event, which is scheduled for 20 July, which will showcase its level of readiness to host the most successful tournament in the history of handball, an achievement that will prove that the IHF’s decision to give Qatar the hosting right was the right decision.
Dr. Thani Abdulrahman Al Kuwari, General Director of the Qatar 2015 Organising Committee, tells us more about the latest preparations to host the event, including the Official Draw Ceremony.
Q: What is the status of Qatar 2015’s hosting preparation for the 24th Men’s Handball World Championships? When will the state of the art flagship stadium be inaugurated?
Dr. Thani: We are working closely with IHF on all aspect of the Championship preparations to create a unique memorable experience for all stakeholders: the athletes, the sport officials, the national and international federations, the media, the fans and the volunteers. Part of our operations plan is to have a series of test events, hence the Super Globe will take place during September 2014 when we will launch the Qatar Handball Association Complex to test all operations levels. The time frame for the construction of all venues has been planned to meet the Championship deadline, therefore soon all construction will be concluded in phases and the Handball world will have state-of-the-art venues at their disposal.
The existing know-how of building high end arenas has actually helped us in order to identify and design the construction methods that would speed up the whole process and taking into consideration the full support we receive from all involved governmental authorities, we managed to move on at this very fast pace and deliver the highest international standard.
The International Handball Federation delegates have visited the venues repeatedly and expressed their satisfaction for the infrastructure that is currently being built for the 2015 Men’s Handball World Championship.
Q: Have you secured the post-Championship use of each venue?
Dr. Thani: Sustainable development is one of the aspects we take into serious consideration. Therefore we made very careful studies on how we could use the existing infrastructure and align that with Qatar vision 2030. The three new arenas will be the key pillars in future biddings for various international sports events. However, after the Qatar 2015 Men’s Handball World Championship the venues will remain active to host various games. Please allow me to elaborate:
Lusail Multipurpose Hall, the largest of all new arenas, will be able to serve non-sporting purposes and events as well, such as concerts and other entertainment activities, while the whole area surrounding the venue is being developed in a way that will offer various leisure activities for the society.
Al Sadd Sports Hall will be handed over to Al Sadd club in order to cover the needs of its various sections with all the corresponding benefits this will have both for the club and the Al Sadd area. The field of play may be transformed within a very short time into a hockey rink, which follows the regulations and requirements of the International Ice Hockey Federation.
The Qatar Handball Association Complex Hall will be the new home of Qatari Handball. Apart from the state-of-the-art arena, it will also have a 60-room hotel, which will be able to host and cater to the needs not only of our national teams, but also visiting teams from abroad, giving a whole new perspective for the development of Handball in our country.
Q: How high are the expectations from the Qatar national team?
Dr. Thani: Our national coach Valero Rivera is the best person to answer this question, but I believe that by deciding to give the keys to the 2013 World Champion coach and a legendary figure in international handball to lead our national team, our high expectations are pretty obvious. Building a strong and competitive national team is always a means to attract more fans and engage more people with the sport.
The objectives of the Qatar Team for the 2015 Men’s Handball World Championship: to be competitive and fight for the victory through fair dynamic play until the very last moments of each game and to finish in a better ranking from all past World Championships. Achieving both of those objectives will be something outstanding to show to the enthusiastic handball fans.
The plan though, goes much further than the 2015 World Championship and much higher than just having a leading team in a regional or a continental level. The team has shown its potential in recent events, such as with its first triumph at an Asian Championships in Bahrain, notably playing against the hosts in the final and the draw we managed against Europe’s silver winning team, Denmark, at a friendly match for the Golden League tournament in Paris.
Q: One of the main concerns in every major sport event is the means to attract spectators to the arenas. Can you explain how the Organising Committee plans to succeed in that tricky field?
Dr. Thani: Before the bid, Qatar had already organised major international handball events, such as the IHF Super Globe, the 2004 Asian Men’s Handball Championship, the 1999 IHF Men’s Junior Championship and the inaugural IHF Men’s Youth World Championship in 2005. All these competitions and long term plans helped handball become the second most popular sport in Qatar.
Bringing the most important Handball global event in Qatar would open a whole new perspective for the development of the sport, not only in our country but also in the wider region. Many young children playing in various clubs have already expressed their preference for various teams and cannot wait until they get the chance to see their iconic handball stars competing live!
From the perspective of the country vision, the 2015 Men’s Handball World Championship may not be the first major event ever to be hosted, however it is the first time a Senior World Championship of a high profile Olympic Sport will take place in Qatar. This fact makes the event even more important, not only ahead of the 2022 Football World Cup, but also for other similar events for which Qatar has shown an interest to host.
Not many countries in the world have such a genuine love for sports or have placed sports so high on their agenda for their social development as Qatar has. Qatar has repeatedly showcased its commitment to Sports Excellence. Whenever we take on the responsibility to stage an event, our goal is always to turn it into a notable milestone and a memorable experience for all our spectators. We want to engage them with the handball game’s tactics, so one of the long term milestones is to increase the number of handball fans through the Qatar2015 mascot Fahed, who is inviting, encouraging and motivating the prospective fans of handball to experience and live the game in Qatar. Therefore the mascot mission is beyond the Qatar 2015 world championship. It’s to spread awareness about his favourite sport handball, along with making it more popular in Qatar and around the world.
The core part of Handball enthusiasts is of course located in Europe but we should not forget the popularity the sport enjoys not only in our region, but generally in the Arab World. The National Teams from neighbouring countries Iran, UAE and Bahrain have already qualified, while Northern African teams, Algeria, Egypt and Tunisia will certainly be supported by large number of fans who live here in Qatar and MENA region.
In terms of demographics also, our societies have a significant young population and well understand the potential Handball will be offered with the exposure in such vibrant and evolving sports markets, which we open opportunity for the spectators to support handball in general and support their team specifically by offering them a full special package by securing and booking their ticket early.
Furthermore, a new promotional campaign which will offer all our international guests extremely tempting hospitality packages will commence pretty shortly. I am in the pleasant position announcing you that these packages for handball fans around the world who eagerly looking forward to supporting their favourite team in the heart of Qatar, will be offered at 40% off. More details will be announced right after the 24th Men’s Handball World Championship Draw via Qatar 2015 official website (www.qatarhandball2015.com), therefore I urged all concerned communities to stay tuned and visit our page often for further surprises and updates.
We are absolutely sure that fans around the world, and especially from Europe which is handball’s key-market, will be also tempted by the fact that all preliminary groups and the knock out stage will be staged in one city, allowing those passionate fans to watch many different games during the days of the competition. Spectators, media and officials can see up to four different groups in one day due to the close distances. Courtesy of a spectator-friendly concept, top matches will be held in the biggest arena, which is another advantage of the “Tournament in one city project”.
Q: We have noticed advertising all around Doha about “The game of Fast”? What does this new motto really mean?
Dr. Thani: Handball is one of the most exciting and fast-paced sports. It is tough, but by no means, brutal. Defences in handball may be hard-rock built, but players still comply with the sportsmanship rules and pay respect to fair play.
But what’s really fascinating in handball is the speed in attack and the interaction with the fans and this is the domain our newly introduced advertising campaign has been focused on.
The world will come together with a game where speed challenges the fastest and passion challenges the will to be the best. Here in Qatar is where fans will hold their breath for the game of fast and will follow the 24 participating teams’ ultimate quest: The Men’s Handball World Championship trophy!
We invite everyone to Live it – Win it – which is our new tagline that we believe will help building a brand positioning for handball around the world -, and Witness the Game of Fast this January in Qatar.
Q: Are there any other key advantages the Organising Committee may count on the operational side of the event?
Dr. Thani: Apart from all the aforementioned assets, i.e. the state-of-the-art venues, Qatar’s huge experience in major sport events, the love of the sport and of course the Emir’s immense support, the concept of having all the action in one city means that teams will have no travel days. Rest days are pure rest days and players will be accommodated in the same hotel room from the start to the end.
Training venues and playing arenas are located around the official hotels, thus teams won’t have to face a long and tiring transportation system. The accommodation as always in Qatar will be of the highest level, as well as the logistics. Finally, the best possible medical service for all teams and players will be at their disposal, which is a factor of extreme importance for all competitors.
And of course let us not forget, that everything will take place in a summertime environment – in a time period that Europeans usually experience hard winter – enabling the visiting fans to enjoy both breathtaking handball action and leisure activities.
Q: What are the new elements you are planning to present at the Draw event? Is the Draw another challenge for the Organising Committee?
Dr. Thani: With all 24 participants confirmed, the Draw event officially opens the countdown towards the competition programme of the 24th Men’s Handball World Championship and the real action.
We are extremely glad to welcome the IHF board, as well as the representatives from 23 nations here in Doha. It is the first time ever all qualified teams and Media from all those countries will attend the Draw. Alongside the procedure, the officials will have the opportunity to make arrangements for the preparation period ahead of the Championship and the journalists will have the chance for one-to-one exclusive interviews with important handball people from various countries regardless their origins and not only with their fellow compatriots.
As you know, regarding the process itself, as in all handball tournaments, the hosts have the prerogative to select the preliminary group of their own choice, although I do believe that this privilege will not pave the way for an easier path towards qualification for the Qatari squad, since all teams are of a high caliber and I am sure that the 24th Men’s Handball World Championship will prove to be one of the most competitive tournaments ever.
The Draw event will be the premise of the Organising Committee’s tireless efforts towards the ultimate cause, to showcase Qatar’s capacity and efficiency in staging major global sports events and to contribute to the legacy of a historical and great event such as the Men’s Handball World Championship.
We invite everyone to tune in live on the 20th of July at 18:30 GMT on BeinSport TV and for more information about the live streaming, visit Qatar2015 official website Qatarhandball2015.com