MB attended the Irish Football tournament in Qatar yesterday. For most of the day he could have sworn he was in Ireland!
One of the tournament organisers invited MB along to yesterday’s Gaelic Football Tournament which was hosted by Qatar GAA Club at the Doha rugby grounds. GAA (for the non-Irish) stands for ‘Gaelic Athletic Association’, which is the governing organisation for the Irish sports of Gaelic Football, Hurling and Irish Handball, the latter of the three being very much a minority/small numbers sport.
Gaelic Football and Hurling are the two most popular spectator sports in Ireland, with international football (soccer) and rugby coming in at three & four. Rather than try to explain what each of the two Irish sports are like, take a look at the following:
Both sports are unique to Ireland but are played on an organised basis wherever Irish people are living and working in sufficient numbers to keep the foreign clubs viable. The strength of the foreign clubs tends to be inversely proportional to the economic strength of the home country. When unemployment is high back home, people emigrate to Britain, USA, Australia and Middle East in particular; hence the Irish sports clubs in those regions get the boost of increased numbers.
The GAA league in the Middle East involves clubs from Qatar, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Al Ein (the only inland city in UAE), Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia & maybe one or two others. The clubs take their turns to host the once-per-month tournament, with the results accumulating over the season on a league basis. Qatar emerged victors of yesterday’s event, after a day of 9-a-side matches with two halves of ten minutes per half.
But apart from the sport, the Irishness was everywhere. Guinness, pint bottles of cider, bacon sandwiches, milky white skin, freckles, red sun-burnt skin (even in the Middle East many Irish still do not know how to cope with sunshine!), U2 blaring out ‘Beautiful Day’ and other hits. The Dubliners and the Furey Brothers also getting a fair amount of play for the more Irish traditional music fans. And soft Irish accents from all over the home country.
A great fun day was had by all and was a credit to the organisers.
Some pics from the day: