My name is Zarin Gaffoor, I’m 15 years old, and I’ve lived in Qatar for almost all my life, 12 years! I’ve always felt as if this country had new opportunities waiting for it, and when Qatar first announced that they were hosting the FIFA World Cup, it was extremely thrilling and exciting. This isn’t my first World Cup; I’m South African and spent my first four years there before moving to Qatar. Unfortunately, though, I don’t recall a single memory from that amazing event because I was just three years old. All of this seems just as new to me as it would to someone who has never experienced it. 

I remember one day when I went to school and where everyone was bringing up the FIFA World Cup, they all talked about the teams they were ready to support and who was going to be ball girls or boys or participating in flag bearing, and the games they were hoping to get tickets for. Many times people started getting really passionate about the teams with one another and in that moment I realized how special it was going to be, since a lot of people value football and sport. 

I must admit I was a little disappointed when my brother was chosen as a flag-bearer for a match but I wasn’t, still, I was happy for him because this is an opportunity in a lifetime and we will still go to show our support for him. The World Cup was something that the whole country could talk about and share their opinions on, which was quite nice since it introduced a new way to connect with each other. When I went to summer camp in Denmark, even there, many of the kids were talking about the major event as well, they told me that they were really excited for it and that they wish they could visit to see what it’s like here, specifically the architecture which seems to be quite unique compared to many other countries. 

As for the social media aspect, I noticed that people quickly started posting about Qatar more and more and seeing how the popularity grew was insane. I never used to see many things about Qatar and all of a sudden everyone was aware and found a new liking of the country.There have also been negative comments and these make me a little sad,
because many of those people have never lived here and my experience of living here has
been so positive! I’ve seen a lot about the country itself and great places to visit for when the World Cup is happening so people can spend their time efficiently here when they don’t have tickets for games. On TikTok, there were many accounts sharing their advice for viewers like the best things to do, or how to morally act. As I started seeing more posts about the World Cup and Qatar, I also saw many celebrities visiting. For me, this was very exhilarating because I tend to get attached to many celebrities. Knowing that they were here was all new to me, since before we’d see a celebrity in the country about a few times a year. And in just a month, we were over the yearly average of special appearances, especially considering the concerts and major fashion show with Bella Hadid and Naomi Campbell.

Qatar has decorated the country with World Cup features such as pictures and players on buildings, country flags, the big soccer ball display, the corniche getting ready, busses wrapped with a FIFA design, hotels preparing for the players and over thousands of guests, La’eeb (the cute mascot) stickers on the metro shuttle waiting area, and merchandise getting sold to tons of people living here. This only made people ten times more ready and definitely built suspense. I just know that everyone is waiting for the day people from all around the world get here and we experience such an incredible time in our lives, especially for the sport lovers. I can’t wait to see all the players and the fans filled with joy, uniting us all. 

Do you remember when SA hosted the World Cup ? And who will you be supporting this World Cup?