Bunny Jacobs and Shakeila Walters
The Qatar U20 FIFA team has been adopted by Waikato Hospital’s Waikids in a symbolic act of friendship between the two organisations.
Taking time out from their practice matches and extensive training regime, the Qatar U-20 soccer team spent a morning at Waikato Hospital. The team met young patients and gave out toys and Qatar fan gear, as well as donating two electronic wheelchairs to the hospital.
“It was important for us to give back to our host country,” says Ali Salem Afifa from Qatar. “We wanted to put smiles on the faces of people in the community. We had many of gifts to give away, however the smiles and appreciation we received from the team at the Hospital were worth so much more.”
The Qatar team were then given the official honour of being ‘adopted’ by Waikids. Waikids refers to all services, staff and programmes that focus on meeting the health and disability needs of children and families in the Waikato area.
Dr David Graham, Clinical Unit Leader for Waikids and Paediatrician at Waikato Hospital said, “it is amazing that the Qatar team came to visit Waikids this afternoon. Their commitment to their sport and to giving back to their host country is outstanding. Waikids are thrilled to adopt the team and throw our support behind them in their upcoming matches in the tournament.”
Shakeila Walters, 10, from Hamilton, has been in Waikato Hospital for two weeks and was thrilled to be visited by some of the Qatar team. “Thank you so much Qatar for visiting us and for the donation. It’s so awesome.” Shakeila’s Mum, Cecelia was also excited. “My daughter, and many of the other kids are unable to leave their rooms much, so this was really amazing for them.”
The Qatar team is in New Zealand ahead for the FIFA U-20 World Cup, which kicks off May 30. It’s the first time that Qatar have been a part of the FIFA U-20 World Cup for 20 years, and the team are making the most of enjoying the tournament’s host country, by engaging with the local Hamilton community.
Earlier in May, the Qatar team went to Centre Place Mall in central Hamilton to engage with locals in a fun indoor goal-shooting competition, give out merchandise and prizes, sign autographs and provide photo opportunities for people from the community.
They also went to Peachgrove Intermediate in Hamilton East for a short skills session with youngsters and, later, gave students from Berkley Normal Middle School the special VIP treatment at the Five Nations Series face-off between Qatar and Panama at Waikato Stadium.
The Qatar team begin their campaign to win the FIFA U-20 World Cup with a match against Columbia on the 31st May at Waikato Stadium.