A Huddersfield man who helped Qatar secure the staging of the 2022 World Cup organised an “international” match in his home town.
Tommy Westmoreland, general manager of Doha-based Evolution Sports, which has helped more than 15,000 youngsters take part in soccer, swimming, basketball, rugby and netball, brought a squad of young footballers from Qatar for an under-14s exhibition match against Westend FC at Salendine Nook High School.
The match, which ended 2-0 to the visitors, was held to recognise the efforts of Westend chairman Ricky Thwaites’ 25 years with the club.
“Many of those involved in establishing Evolution Sports came through Westend as junior players and have carried the club’s values and philosophy with us as we established our own academy in Qatar,” said Tommy. “We have maintained close ties with Ricky and the club over the years and it has been a dream of ours to bring players from Qatar to the place where we grew up.”
Westend U14 v Evolution from Qatar. Ricky Thwaites of Westend.
Evolution Sports was founded in 2007 by Tommy, who moved to Doha over 10 years ago. Having got his UEFA coaching badge, he started a Saturday morning football club. Evolution Sports now has almost 3,000 members aged three to 18.
Most of its 40 full-time coaches are from the UK. Academy manager David Wallace, brand manager Toyan Greaves, community manager James Mwale and coaches Stephen Powell, Luke Gibson and Dan Holmes have been joined by Richard Boustead, James Prieditis and Joseph Pinnock over the years – all Huddersfield born and bred.
Evolution Sports served as a case study in grassroots football to back Qatar’s successful World Cup bid.
Tommy said: “There has been a lot of talk about Qatar hosting the World Cup and the decision has met with a lot of negativity in the UK. However, having lived in the country for over 10 years I can honestly say that I believe that the 2022 World Cup will be one of the best yet.
Westend U14 v Evolution from Qatar. Former Westend player and Evolution coach from Qatar David 'Ducky' Wallace.
“The amount of money spent on developing top quality stadiums, the time and effort that has been put into the infrastructure means that by the time the World Cup comes, Qatar will be a modern day city which is perfectly suited to catering to large numbers of travelling supporters.
“Heat is no longer an issue now that the event will take place in the winter when temperatures are ideal for playing football games.
“The only remaining question is that of alcohol, which I believe will be available in local hotels and supporters zones. I just hope that the travelling fans can respect the cultures of the country and not cause the type of problems we saw in France during the Euros in 2016.”