Muscat: The AFC U-22 Championship that Oman successfully hosted this month has left a lasting legacy, according to Oman Football Association (OFA) board member Ahmed Al Habsi.
Speaking to Times Sport in an interview yesterday, Ahmed who was the tournament director of the inaugural championship hosted by Oman, said success was due to the collective effort of everyone involved with running the event. "There is no individual success in this championship. It was a collective effort put in by everyone and we worked together for that success," said Ahmed who played a key role in organising the event efficiently.
Interestingly, what added to that success was the involvement of 680 volunteers who worked meticulously for 16 days with many having to often forego sleep. "Most of our volunteers were from schools and colleges while many others were semi-professionals. I must credit each one of them who were involved. They worked really hard for this success.
"Most of them used to work till late in the night and slept for just an hour before continuing the work assigned to them. That gave us the strength to work till the end," Ahmed said.
According to Ahmed, the tournament has captured the hearts of thousands of people not only in Oman but across the globe. "My phone has not stopped ringing ever since the tournament concluded. We are getting such a good response from people. That shows the tournament has certainly captured the hearts of the people. It will certainly leave a lasting legacy," he said.
Ahmed said the preparations for the tournament started a year ago with all the Local Organising Committee (LOC) officials and volunteers being given extensive training that also included a test rehearsal days before the championship kicked-off. "Actually, we were ready for the tournament a week before it was to start. When we posted advertisements requesting for volunteers, we received an overwhelming response.
The LOC officials made sure that all the volunteers are placed in proper sectors. We also held many training camps and workshops so that everyone knew what he or she was supposed to do," he said.
Ahmed said daily meetings with the LOC officials during the course of the tournament also helped organise the event smoothly. "We never faced any problems during the running of the tournament, mainly because we had daily meetings late at night. We considered each day as a new challenge and that really helped us," he said.
While thanking the government and private sector for the support, Ahmed said the AFC president Sheikh Salman Al Khalifa praised the efforts of the OFA. "He was very pleased with the organisational skills of the OFA and our volunteers. All the AFC officials and heads of various associations who came here were happy. The smiles on their faces showed the success of this tournament. I would like to personally thank OFA chairman Sayyid Khalid Al Busaidi and the entire staff at OFA for working together for the success of this tournament," he added.