Doha, Qatar: The Qatar Indian Association (QIA) announced the launch of the eighth edition of their flagship football tournament – the City Exchange Transfast QIA Champions League 2022 – which will kick off on the 2nd of June 2022, at the Al-Arabi Sports Club. The announcement came at a press conference held at the Crowne Plaza Doha on Sunday.
The organisers also announced QIA’s new strategic partnership with Al-Arabi Sports Club. Mr. Mohammed Jassim Al-Kuwari, Vice-President of Al-Arabi, was the chief guest at the event, and signed an agreement alongside Mr. EP Abdulrahman, President of QIA, to formally launch the partnership.
City Exchange and Transfast then signed on as title sponsors for QIA Champions League 2022, represented by Mr. Shanib Shamsudeen, Operations Manager, City Exchange and Mr. Jitesh Vadakkath, Director of Cross Border Remittance at MasterCard, the parent company of Transfast.
Mr. Saeed Juma Al Hitmi, former Qatar volleyball national team captain was the guest of honour, while Mr. Vinod Nair, President of Indian Community Benevolent Fund; Mr. Jafar Sadik, President of Indian Business Professionals Council; Mr. Srinivas, Indian Sports Centre; Mr. Varkey Boban, Indian Sports Centre; and Mr. John Desa, Indian Sports Centre were also in attendance.
Other sponsors who signed agreements with QIA included Tokyo Freights, Isuzu Jaidah, Atlas Dias, Grand Mall, Naseem Al Rabeeh, Land Royal, Rayyan Water, Gulf Lights and Clikon.
Welcoming the gathering, Mr. Nihad Ali, General Secretary of QIA, spoke of the importance of the upcoming eighth edition of the QIA Champions League.
First held in 2013, this particular edition of the QIA Champions League comes “at a special moment”, said Mr. EP Abdulrahman, who is also the chairman of the organising committee.
“Two years after our last edition, we are back, after a traumatic pandemic experience. This is a new era for QIA, and we are marking it with our special partnership with Al Arabi Sports Club. We remain the place to be for community sports, and we will continue to be active in football, in support of the biggest event in Qatar’s history – the 2022 World Cup. We dedicate this QIA Champions League edition to the country, HH the Amir and the people of Qatar,” said Mr. Abdulrahman.
Mr. Mohammed Jassim Al-Kuwari, Vice-President of Al-Arabi SC expressed his pride in partnering with QIA, adding: “It is a great pleasure to be here at this event. I want to thank QIA for their wonderful work in sports for communities in Qatar.”
Mr. Shanib Shamsudeen thanked QIA for organising this event, and added: “We are slowly getting out of the pandemic, and we are proud to be a part of the tournament once again, as title sponsors alongside Transfast.”
Mr. Abdul Rauf (Tokyo Freights) said: “We are proud to partner with QIA Champions League since 2014 and we were waiting for them to come back.”
Mr. Hari Subramony (Isuzu Jaidah) said: “We encourage sports and we give back to the community. Football is a flavour for Qatar. We are looking forward to a big event this year also, like all the previous years.”
QIA Champions League Vice-Chairman Mr. Safeer Rahman provided an overview on this year’s edition of the tournament, with information on the teams, format, and schedule.
He also explained how the tournament brings together Indian players residing in Qatar, in addition to talents arriving from India. Over the years, the QIA Champions League has featured big names who have played in some of India’s top championships, such as the Indian Super League, I-League and the Santosh Trophy.
Eight teams are participating in this year’s edition, divided into two groups of four. The group stage games will be played on Thursdays and Fridays, on the 2nd, 3rd, 9th, 10th, 16th and 17th of June.
QIA secretaries Mr. Renjith Raju and Mr. Hamsa Yousuf supervised the fixture draw, in which Groups A and B were decided. Islamic Exchange Mates Qatar, South Indian Eagles FC, Ole FC, and Kadappuram FC Kanyakumari will play in Group A, while Group B consists of City Exchange FC, Friday FC, Annabi Al Majd, and AtoZ Lions.
The top two sides from each group will qualify for the semifinals, which will be played on Friday, the 24th of June. The grand finale of the tournament will see Qatar’s best Indian community team be crowned with the prestigious trophy on Friday, the 1st of July.
Mr. Sajid, QIA Champions League Events Head, was the master of ceremonies. QIA Vice-President Mr. Khaleel AP, conveyed the vote of thanks, expressing his gratitude to guests, sponsors, and participating teams.
QIA Executive Committee members, representatives from the media, team officials and players were also present.