Muscat: The success of 2015-16 soccer season has proved that professional football in Oman is on the right path, according to Oman Football Association (OFA) chairman Sayyid Khalid bin Hamad Al Busaidi.
The chief of the Sultanate’s soccer governing body, speaking during the OFA Annual Awards Gala at Crowne Plaza on Saturday night, said: “The thrilling 2015-16 season culminated with the Omantel Professional League and His Majesty’s final and the interest the season generated as well as the huge fan following for the games, the excitement created by the media coverage, the ever improving technical aspects of the game and the continuing competition, whether at the top of the table or at the bottom, have confirmed, beyond any doubt, that the professional football in our country is walking the path to success as per the OFA’s long-term vision of developing football in Oman and transforming it into a thriving industry.”
The OFA chief credited all those who involved in the football for making a positive impact which led to success of the season.
“The positive indicators of the season as well s the two previous seasons have underlined the sound approach that led to a successful football season. This has been demonstrated through the meaningful participation of clubs in Omantel Professional League, 1st Division, 2nd Division tournaments and their commitment to all professional and regulatory requirements, which have had a positive impact on the success achieved in the third season of professional football,” he said.
While praising the role played by the spectators and the fans, he said: “The spectators interest and the fans involvement with the clubs have played a prominent role in creating a distinctive atmosphere of fun and enthusiasm, which was reflected effectively in the technical performance in games promoting the positioning of football in our society.”
“This has encouraged Oman Football Association to dedicate a weekly motivational prize known as ‘OFA Chairman’s Best Fans Award’ as a recognition and encouragement to the clubs that witnessed a large presence of fans in some league rounds.”
Adding value to society
“All the factors have enabled the game to be very close to achieving the goals set out for it to transform into a real industry that touches all segments of society. The game succeeded today to be very closely linked to the community and to many services, industries and areas of work. The football season has become an economic and social season. It has provided broader prospects for sports media industry in the Sultanate in all its components, and has contributed to the growth of the advertising market. What’s more, football games have touched multiple areas of services and industries more than ever before, such as catering services, medical services, security and safety services, merchandise sales, national transportation and airline, tourism and labour market,” he added.
The OFA chief also said that football is adding value to the development.
“All of these indicators make us proud of what football is achieving in our country today. Football is adding value to Oman’s social and economic development.”
Speaking about how the success of the professional set up has contributed to the development of all aspects of the game, he said: “Football competitions have directly increased the number of participants in all aspects of the game. Today there are more professional footballers than ever. There are more semi professional and amateur players, more administrators, coaches, technical staff, referees, observers, match commissioners, physiotherapists, photographers, analysts and commentators.”
Sayyid Khalid also said the success of football led to creation of new jobs.
“Indeed, all of these newly introduced jobs have created new areas of interest in the Omani labour market that were not there in the past. Furthermore, the football season has directly contributed to the widening of football participation in the community, particularly in young children, within community teams, in schools, colleges, universities, public beaches and parks.
“Football growth has also contributed to the emergence of many private football academies and schools in the last few years. All of this immense interest in football will for sure have a positive impact on our national teams in the near future.”
Long way to go
Sayyid Khalid, however, said that ‘OFA and all parties still have a long way to’.
“OFA and all parties still have a long way go, to work relentlessly to complete the process of professional football development in Oman in order for this experience to become mature, stable and prosperous. However, I would like to seize the opportunity to thank all those who have worked with us to achieve the set goals.
“I would like to extend my thanks to OFA committees and departments for their dedication and success in managing and organising the competitions of the season. I am happy to commend in particular the performance of the competitions and referees committees, disciplinary and legal committees and the rest of the standing committees. I also commend the great role of OPL unit with its different divisions and the rest of the departments at the OFA. I am pleased to extend my thanks to all stake holders."