Qatar Football Association (QFA), Qatar Shell and Foundation FC Barcelona (FFCB) kicked off the third season of Il’Ab We’Yana last week, an extra-curricular school programme targeted at boys and girls aged 7-16 years.

President of the QFA, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa bin Ahmad Al Thani, said:

Il’Ab We’Yana gives children across the country access to more football, which in turn will lead to healthier youth and a better future for Qatar. The launch of the new season of Il’Ab We’Yana represents a significant milestone for us and our partners, Qatar Shell and Foundation FC Barcelona and we look forward to continue growing our partnership.’

Il’Ab We’Yana is part of the award winning KOORA TIME initiative created by the QFA and Qatar Shell, and is based on FFCB’s FutbolNet methodology which uses football to develop healthy habits and encourage positive behavioural change.

Managing Director and Chairman of Qatar Shell companies, Wael Sawan, stated:

The Il’Ab We’Yana programme was developed in collaboration with local partners to encourage healthy living through football with the aim of evoking behavioural change in line with Qatar’s National Development Strategy and Qatar National Vision 2030. We are delighted with the results of the first two seasons of the programme. Measurement has shown that Il’Ab We’Yana has significantly improved the Body Mass Index of participants, which is a very encouraging achievement.’

Findings published by Institut DEP, an independent sports education research agency, show that the programme has significantly improved the Body Mass Index (BMI) rate of 89% of participants from the first and second season. The third season of Il’Ab We’Yana will take place over 24 weeks. Certified male and female coaches from the QFA and Qatar Women’s Sports Committee will hold weekly sessions at eight different venues across the country, including Al Wakra and the northern communities with a capacity to positively impact over 1,000 young people. Sessions run for two hours and are held twice a week after school, with the aim of providing each participant with over 100 hours of extra-curricular physical activity.

Participating schools from Doha and the northern communities include; Al Rayyan Al Jadeed Preparatory Independent School for Girls, Ahmed Bin Hanbal Independent Secondary School for Boys, Abdullah bin Ali Al Misnad Secondary Independent School for Boys and Al Shamal School for Girls.

Explaining how important this programme is for his daughter, Saleh Al Mahdy, said:

This is second year that my daughter has taken part in the programme. The coaches continuously update me on her progress in sessions, and at home I am amazed to see the positive changes in her diet.’

In addition to providing young people in Qatar with greater access to extra-curricular physical education, the programme teaching modules cover the importance of drinking water and maintaining hydration, eating fruits, vegetables and grains, eating a good breakfast and getting sufficient sleep. The modules also stress the harmful effects of fast food and snacks, fat and sugar, and using tobacco.

FC Barcelona First Vice President, Ramon Pont, said:

We are delighted with the positive response to this programme in Qatar. The ongoing success and increased interest of young people to join the programme are extremely encouraging. We are therefore proud to extend our partnership with QFA and Qatar Shell, and we look forward to continue helping young people across the country to adopt healthier lifestyles through the country’s most popular sport, football.’

Il’Ab We’Yana was officially recognised at the Sport Industry Awards 2014 earlier this year, winning the ‘Best Youth Development Initiative’ award. The second season concluded during Ramadan with more than 700 children aged 6 to 12 years old having taken part, 25% of which were Qatari.