‘Jeem Cup3’ International Football Tournament

Kuwait’s junior soccer team

KUWAIT: Football is Kuwait’s most popular sport, but the national team cannot participate in international competitions due to the suspension imposed by the International Olympic Committee. This is very disappointing, but the people of Kuwait finally celebrated a victory.

Recently, the junior Kuwaiti team won the bronze medal at the ‘Jeem Cup3’, an international football tournament for young boys held in Qatar. This was the third edition of this tourney, with 20 teams from various countries participating. It began as a 10-team competition before expanding to 16 teams in its second iteration. Organizers plan to expand it even further.

“This is the first time a Kuwaiti team won in this mini-cup, and it has participated since the first tourney,” coach Ali Falah told Kuwait Times. “The teams were divided in four groups, each containing five teams. In our group, we won against Brazil 3-1, then against Chile 6-0, Sudan 11-0 and finally Russia 3-1. We qualified for the quarterfinals and beat the UAE 2-1. Unfortunately, we lost against France on penalties and ranked third after beating Bahrain 4-2. France stood first and Morocco second,” he said.

Kuwait’s team consisted of 15 players between the ages of 12 and 13 studying in the seventh grade. “The matches are shorter than regular adult games. Each half is only of 20 minutes, instead of the regular 45, and halftime is only for five minutes. Also, only nine players play in the field and six are substitutes,” Falah explained.

The players study at both public and private schools. “We chose the players from different schools. There was a league held including schools in all governorates,” Falah said. “We then chose the best players from the many teams and formed our team. In this team, 11 players were from public schools and four from private schools.”

The school world cup is supervised by the Ministry of Education. “This cup is not related to the Olympics or FIFA, so we could participate under the Kuwaiti flag. The organizers in Qatar corresponded with the undersecretary of the Ministry of Education, so we formed this team,” he pointed out.

The players trained at one of the schools equipped with artificial turf. “They trained for 17 days before participating in the championship. The training took place after school hours four days a week,” Falah said. “I’m the coach, and we have an administrative assistant and the head of our delegation Dr Ahmad Al-Fayez. We are proud of our achievement, and various institutions held honoring ceremonies for the team, especially now that our sporting activities are suspended. I hope that we achieve first place in the future,” he concluded.

By Nawara Fattahova