A charity football tournament, that has been an annual fixture in the kingdom for over four-and-a-half decades, is set to be played again tomorrow after a two-year hiatus caused by Covid-19.
The Rotary Club of Manama’s 6-a-side tournament, featuring 20 teams, will get underway in the afternoon at the Bahrain Rugby Football Club (BRFC) and conclude in the evening, the club’s president told the GDN yesterday.
“We are hoping to support three causes through the funds generated by this tournament,” Osama Al Moayed said. “We shall be helping children with disabilities. Secondly, we will, in partnership with the Alia Centre, be educating teachers – especially those working in government schools – about how to detect early signs of disabilities in children. And, lastly, we shall be helping Bahrainis living under the poverty line: for example, those who might be unable to work for any variety of reasons or those whose lives have been impacted adversely by Covid.”
In keeping with the international organisation’s motto, Al Moayed added, it was important to understand that the Rotary Club is dedicated to service.
“Our motto is ‘service before self’,” he explained. “We are a ‘service’ organisation. No money exchanges hands. We help people by fulfilling their requests: for example, if someone needs help fixing their house, we go and do it for them.”
The Rotary Club of Manama was formed in 1965, making it one of the oldest in the region. The charity football tournament was first played in 1976 according to the traditional 11-a-side format.
“And that’s the way it stayed until 2010, which is when this format was introduced,” the club’s director of vocational services, Robert Timmers, told the GDN. “This time, 20 teams have registered for the event and they will be slotted into four groups of five teams each. The top team from each group will get into the semi-finals, which will be followed by a final.”
Timmers said he hoped that the tournament, which is taking place for the first time since 2019, would help generate, more or less, the same amount of funds that it did three years ago.
“We were able to use those funds to aid a number of causes,” he explained. “We were able to help children with autism and raise awareness about diabetes by allying with the Bahrain Diabetes Society (BDS) and going to different schools and educating children about the risks associated with different kinds of food and the need to stay active.”
The funds raised by the 2019 event, Timmers added, also enabled the club to renovate an ambulance and use it, specifically, to test children, as well as adults, for sickle cell disease (SCD).
There was still not enough awareness in the kingdom about SCD, Al Moayed explained.
“One in 10 Bahrainis may carry the abnormal sickle cell gene, and one in 100 may be affected by SCD,” he said. “So, by using this ambulance to test as many people as possible, we’re helping them to identify the illness early and seek treatment in time.”
Meanwhile, both Al Moayed and Timmers were hoping for a healthy turnout at the BRFC tomorrow afternoon.
“People have always been willing to contribute for a good cause,” Timmers said. “I expect this time to be no different.” Al Moayed agreed.
“Events like these allow people to put others before themselves,” he said. “They allow us all to do good for others.”