Yemenis around the World await The Gulf Cup 20.
By: Adel A. Mozip
In late November, Yemen is about to host its first major regional sport tournament, Arabian Gulf 20 Cup. “Khaleeji 20” is a soccer tournament held every two years where the Gulf States with the addition of Iraq and Yemen compete furiously to win the “The Gulf Cup”. The Gulf Cup started in 1970 in Bahrain with only Kuwait, Bahrian and Saudi Arabia. Later, other Gulf States joined the tournament. Yemen recently joined the tournament in 2004 as Yemen emerges to join the Arabian Gulf Union.
Yemenis are anxious about the tournament with the current instability of the country. The Gulf States share the same feeling of fear of terrorist attacks during matches as the government still undergoing rigorous fights against active Al-Qaida terrorists.
Gulf Cup 20 is being held in South Yemen, particularly, Aden and Ibyen. Not only the Al-Qaida militias are a concern, but also the separation movement in the South. Marches and demonstrations against the government in the Southern provinces became a daily routine.
Yemenis outside Yemen are also excited about the tournament. Eyad Alshawhati, an accounting student at Henry Ford Community College in Dearborn, Michigan and an energetic soccer fan is very optimistic about Yemen’s performance during the tournament.
Eyad says “Yemen’s team has improved in the last two years. I made sure to follow their last friendly games, and they’re improving in each game.” Just in the last two months, Yemen has beaten Senegal in a historical friendly 3-1, tied 1-1 with Uganda and tied with North Korea 1-1. “The Croatian coach, Srecko knows where to place players, and for the first time, I feel Yemen’s team a confident one.” Eyad added.
Abdulnasser Sharif, a Yemeni American student at the Laney College in Oakland, California says he’s very excited to the tournament since it’s the first time Yemen holds a major championship at this level. Abdulnasser stated that he was in Yemen for eight months this year and he traveled all over Yemen and did not sense of the “security troubles”. “I just hear those security troubles in media” said Abdulnasser. He’s looking forward for the games but believes Yemen doesn’t have a chance in advancing to the next level due to the unavailability for resources to the team. Abdulnasser continues with saying “Yemeni team’s performance will remain weaker than most of the other Gulf teams due to the little financial and logistic aid the Yemeni team is receiving compared to its neighboring countries.”
Fahd Alkahali, a Yemeni American who is an accountant in Detroit, Michigan believes that hosting such important event will generate a reasonable revenue to Yemen which he hopes will boost Yemen’s falling economy. When asked about security concerns, he replies “No matter where you go, there is a lack of safety and that is a fact even in very developed countries. Yemen has been facing many major and minor issues lately, which weakened its strengths and made safety a controversial issue to foreigner authorities simultaneously. On the other hand, Yemen is striving to overcome such obstacles and meet the standards. I think Yemen will provide safety and host this event successfully.”
Another Yemeni American student who is an undergraduate at Wayne State University Jihan Aiyash has a viewpoint about the Gulf Cup as well. Jihan affirms, “although I am not really into sports, but I believe Yemen can pull this off because the one thing Yemenis can pride themselves in is hospitality. No matter what we are going through we always make our guests feel at home.”
Her colleague, Arafat Almurisi agrees with what Jihan has said and adds, “the preparation for the championship took a long time because of the lack of credibility of the government and lack of confidence between officials who were responsible for the execution of projects for the championship” Arafat adds.
Yehia Aljabr, a Yemeni journalist in Saudi Arabia is still hesitant about Yemen’s security but senses a great team. “Though I am still concerned about the security, the [Yemeni] team is playing really good. The way they play reminds me of the younger Yemen team that reached World Cup Finals U-17 in Finland 2003.”
Hosting the Gulf Cup has been a living nightmare for Yemenis yet a dream transforming into reality. Some Gulf countries like Bahrain have raised security concerns and suggested moving the tournament to its capital. Yemen reassured its neighboring countries that Gulf 20 will be a safe tournament by pledging more than 30,000 soldiers to protect stadiums, teams, and visiting guests.Between fear and excitement, anxiety and waiting, Yemenis worldwide are looking forward to observing their country hosting its first major sport tournament, Gulf Cup 20!
Yemeni American Net Link: http://yemeniamerican.com/show.php?anid=866
Adel Mozip is a contributing writer to the Yemeni American Net [ YemeniAmerican.com ] and Examiner.com. See more of his posts and contact information on his blog, www.shabadel.com