Men’s Handball World Championship: HE Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad al-Thani visits the facilities at Losail

HE Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad al-Thani, President of Qatar 2015 Organising Committee, speaks about the 24th Men’s Handball World Championship that begins at the brand new Lusail Multipurpose Hall from 15th January 2015.

The first ever Men’s Handball World Championship in Qatar is about to underway, how strong is your personal anticipation?

I have been counting down the days with great anticipation! It is a mixture of excitement and the knowledge that we did our best. I believe that the work and achievements of the State of Qatar along with 2015 Men’s Handball World Championship are a manifestation of our effort towards a healthy society while  spreading awareness on the importance sports have in our life.
The championship will have a great impact on our society as it opens up working opportunities for experts in the field of sports and gives the young and talented an opportunity to contribute to a great event at the heart of our country.
And with the continuous efforts of the Qatar National Olympic committee and the various sports associations, the calendar of international top sports events is expanding. Qatar in my opinion is the new home of sportsmanship. We are working hand in hand to make the Championship an unforgettable event to be added to the book of achievements of Qatar.
We are working to be the perfect host for all 24 teams, all officials, all fans and all media representatives by creating a perfect atmosphere in the arenas, by showing our well-known hospitality. We want the world to remember a unique and spectacular event.

Which means a huge legacy for Handball and for Qatar?
The legacy will be a strong reputation that Qatar keeps its promises and delivers what it has promised to the world’s handball community. The 24th Men’s Handball World Championship will be a top event that the local and international handball community will never forget—including the amazing arenas built aesthetically and in compliance with IHF regulations, not forgetting to mention the new handball trophy that has been conceptualised and designed in Qatar. In addition, we have motivated the local talents to get involved in this event.

Which interaction do you expect for the Qatari people?
An integral part of our strategy is engaging the fans by inviting schools, sports clubs and people from various communities to engage in various activities. The main objective is to enhance sports education in a fun and exciting way while introducing handball to the young generation perfectly meets this purpose.

How critical was role of volunteers?
Volunteers are indispensable and absolutely necessary for every sports’ organisation event. In our case volunteers proved to be an organic part of the success of the test events and of the preparation for the main championship. We are very satisfied that Handball has attracted such a big and diversified group of volunteers offering their best to the organisation of the game of the fast!

The World Championship will bring together handball fans from all over the world—a great chance for Qatar to showcase their abilities and combine it with hospitality…

Qataris have sport in their hearts and the World Championship will be yet another proof of our dedication to Sport. Sport is not only brings people together, but also it brings cultures. Everyone is welcome to learn about Qatar’s traditions, hospitality and more. Qatar is widely known for hospitality and Qataris have welcomed the world on numerous occasions in the past. We have specially tailored travel packages that are reaching out to all fans around the world. We want to welcome the world in Qatar.

What, in your opinion, is the unique selling point of the 2015 Men’s World Championship?
The event in Qatar will be the first ever World Championship to be held in one city, this offers a clear advantage for teams and spectators. All venues, accommodation and city landmarks are within a short drive. The weather conditions in Qatar during the month of January are like a “summer in the heart of winter”. This will enable fans that will travel from all over the world to experience not just a celebration of handball but also explore the unique beauties our nation has to offer. Qatar2015 also enjoys the full support of the IHF and the IHF President Dr. Hassan Moustafa, who often said that Qatar will host “the best World Championship ever”.

What is your vision on this event, the vision of the Qatar governing bodies?

We want to leave a lasting legacy. Qatar has showcased its commitment to sports excellence on many occasions. We share common goals with local, regional, continental and global stakeholders to make sure that the World Championship will offer a unique opportunity for the development of sport.

Our goal is to turn the World Championship into a memorable milestone and a unique experience for everyone: the athletes, the sport officials, the media, the fans, the volunteers, the national and international federations. We carefully studied how we could use the existing infrastructure and what our additional requirements would be for the event.

Our goal is to turn the World Championship into a memorable milestone and a unique experience for everyone: the athletes, the sport officials, the media, the fans, the volunteers, the national and international federations. We carefully studied how we could use the existing infrastructure and what our additional requirements would be for the event. We have identified what the athletes want to see in a handball venue; they are the protagonists and we made sure to cater their needs in the best possible way.

You have permanently been inspecting the Qatar 2015 venues during the record-breaking fast construction process. What is your impression on those arenas?
Sustainable development is one of the most important aspects we take into very serious consideration in Qatar. We will have three brand-new and state-of-the-art arenas with capacities ranging between 5,000 and 15,000 seats. Those will be the key pillars in future bids for various sports and will remain active sports hubs.
Lusail Multipurpose Hall, the largest of all new arenas, is being built in order to be able to host sports as well as cultural events. Ali bin Hamad al-Attiyah Sports Hall in Al-Sadd district of Doha, with a capacity of 7,700 seats. Duhail Handball Sports Hall in Duhail district of Doha with a planned capacity of 5,500 seats. The hall is part of the Qatar Handball Association (QHA) complex. All three venues of the 24th Men’s Handball World Championship are designed and built in compliance with the guidelines provided by the International Handball Federation (IHF). In addition, they use sustainable green technology specifically for the cooling and ventilation that will help to minimise the carbon footprint and environmental impact when the stadia are in use. We are proud to confirm that all the progress in Venue Construction are achieved without a single major accident.
What is the perspective of the Qatar team who will have home advantage?
The Qatar Handball Association has won gold medals with its youth, junior and senior teams in the previous years at all Asian Championships. The men’s team of head coach Valero Rivera even managed to win double gold in 2014, raising both trophies at the Asian Championship and the Asian Games for the first time in history.
So we are all confident and optimistic that the team will play with all their capabilities to ensure the best World Championship result. The World Championship will be a milestone from the sports point as well, not the finishing line, as we hope to launch a great future for Qatar Handball.
Hosting the World Championship is the highlight of our master plan, but our potential goes beyond this event. The number of handball players in Qatar is significantly increasing since we have been awarded to host the 2015 World Championship. International top coaches; headed by Valero Rivera, the most successful coach in handball, have come to Qatar knowing the huge potential for handball in Qatar. In general, we are confident that by bringing the most important Handball global event in Qatar, we will open a new perspective for the development of the sport.

In spring, you and IHF President Dr. Hassan Moustafa unveiled Fahad, the mascot of the event. What does Fahad represent and characterize, in your opinion?
Fahed is more than a mascot. He is a seven-year-old boy and the first human-figured mascot to become the handball  ambassador for Qatar. He showcases the hospitality, our traditions, the friendship, and the sporting ambitions of Qatar in a highly positive and charming way. Fahad will be the face of the World Championship; he will transport our ideals and dreams to the spectators in the venues and via TV all over the world.