Street Football: The Streets of Muscat Are Your Playground

T-Mag Sunday 15/May/2016 16:49 PM
By: Times News Service
Street Football: The Streets of Muscat Are Your Playground

Sporting T-shirts inscribed with the names of Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar, Rooney, and other football stars, they transform parking lots, alleys, empty lawns, and sandy beaches into football pitches each night.

The make-shift fields will witness high-intensity matches with players dodging past opponents and finding the back of the imaginary nets with deft moves. The games continue till twilight sets in. That’s when the ‘stadium’ witnesses a rare camaraderie as ‘stars’ from opposing sides exchange pleasantries before retiring to their homes.

Street football has always been a huge source of inspiration for footballers in Oman. For them, it is all about passion and fun. The rules are quite simple. Pitches can be made anywhere at any time. Neither the playing area nor the number of players is pre-determined. Gear is not mandatory, but no one will stop you from putting the trunk on. And officials are a rarity as players themselves oversee the matches in the true spirit of this beautiful game.

Little wonder then that amateur footballers throng the streets, despite the availability of well-maintained artificial and natural grass football grounds.

“I have to prepare a lot if I want to play with the club side. I believe that football is all about fun, and that is why I prefer street football. It allows me to play near the parking area near my home,” said Ahmed, a Seeb resident.

Rahim has a different reason to take to the streets with his friends in a parking lot in Wadi Kabir. “I am not a trained footballer, but the game is close to my heart. I cannot get a chance to play in a club side. I watch all the English Premier League and Spanish League games on television, and I try to emulate my stars on the street,” explained the ardent Cristiano Ronaldo fan.

The soaring popularity of street football has caught the attention of the Oman Football Association (OFA), the game’s governing body in the country, which announced the launch of a competitive league recently.

“The Street Football League will give opportunity to hitherto unknown stars to showcase their skills in a huge platform. The competitive community league will unearth talents from different parts of the country,” said Alister J D’Silva, head of events at OFA.

The league, which kicks-off on May 20, will be played during three weekends. “The first week’s schedule will conclude on May 21. The teams will be seen in action on May 27, and 28 (second week), and June 3 and 4 (third week). As many as 36 teams will vie for the honours,” he informed.

The league is offering passionate, yet unknown footballers a chance to test their skills and impress the selectors for a chance to earn a place on the National Street Football Team, with the best players even standing a chance of earning a spot on the Oman National Football Team.

Alister believes that no footballer can afford to miss the offer. “I believe footballers will grab the chance with both their legs, which will further popularise street football in Oman.” Are you ready to hit the streets and show them what you’ve got?
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