Qatar is a small desert country in the Gulf region of the Middle East, looking a bit like a thumb sticking off the east side of Saudi Arabia into the waters of the Persian Gulf. More than 2.8 million people live in Qatar, and this population is quite diverse, as about 86% of those living in Qatar are expatriate workers who hail from all over the world. (Yes, really.) These demographics create a cosmopolitan atmosphere, where many different groups of people can find their preferred foods at the grocery stores or restaurants, their preferred languages of educational instruction at primary and secondary schools, and their preferred activities to do in their spare time. For my family, it has been wonderful that, amid the sand dunes and palm trees, we have been able to participate in Little League baseball!
For 25 years, Qatar Little League, chartered through Little League International, has brought baseball and softball to children in Qatar. Yes, the program teaches the skills of playing ball—but it also focuses on the lifelong skills of teamwork and sportsmanship! Character, courage, and loyalty are encouraged at every practice and game.
Qatar Little League provides the diverse Qatar community with a cultural bridge and outreach experience. Over the past few seasons, the QLL has registered over 200 players from almost 30 different countries each year! Yes, there are plenty of participants from countries like the US, Japan, and Venezuela—but the League includes players from all over the world, such as the Czech Republic, India, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Slovakia, and many more, including, of course, Qatar! Playing in the League allows our diverse participants to call each other teammates and friends, promoting mutual understanding and connection through sports and truly making magic happen on the field.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Qatar, many children’s activities were canceled and schooling went virtual. While understandable from a health perspective, the lack of social interaction nevertheless had serious consequences for children’s mental health. Qatar Little League implemented safety standards that ensured safe play for their participants and volunteers and gave children the opportunity to safely return to team sport. The League has had no outbreaks over the past two years of the pandemic and continues to work hard to ensure that this safety record continues! I know that my family has been truly grateful for both the physical and mental wellness of being able to play baseball over the last couple of years.
The community spirit of those involved in the QLL is truly inspiring. This amazing organization operates and relies exclusively on volunteers for its governance and operations. Over 50 parents and community members volunteer annually to coach, officiate, and organize activities! The community spirit certainly inspired me to become more involved this year as a member of the Executive Board!
One of the Qatar Little League’s amazing programs is the Challengers division for players with physical and intellectual challenges. This program teaches baseball, teamwork, and social skills in a supportive and inclusive way through a one-to-one (sometimes two-to-one!) mentorship relationship between “buddy” volunteers and the Challenger participants. And best of all, the Challenger program is free for all families! The League provides Challenger participants with all equipment and uniforms, and provides free training, safety equipment, and tee shirts for the volunteer buddies. Check out this recent video about the Challengers to see more of this amazing program in action!
Qatar Little League Challengers Program
The last two years have been hard on the Qatar Little League’s operating budget. Most of the League’s revenue comes from registrations, which have dipped somewhat during the pandemic. And at the same time, the League has had to spend most of its “rainy day fund” on field rentals and new equipment purchases due to pandemic field restrictions at the previous place of play. So the League welcomes all expressions of support from the community, including volunteering, equipment and uniform donations, and monetary donations, including “sponsoring” a Challengers player! To inquire about how you can donate to the Qatar Little League, please contact the League via email, Facebook, or Instagram.
Thank you, Qatar Little League, for making the world a better place!