Mr. Abdulaziz Al-Mahmoud, Director General of Aspire Logistics  at the FUN RUN
Abdulaziz Al Mahmoud, Director General of Aspire Logistics, at the FUN RUN

Thousands of people gathered at the Torch Hotel on Tuesday afternoon to tackle the first ever ‘5000 Step Journey’ activity hosted by Aspire Zone Foundation (AZF) on National Sport Day.

AZF’s National Sport Day activities kicked off with ore than 2,000 people turned out to take part in the ‘Fun Run’ – notably one of the most popular activities of the day. The rest of AZF National Sport Day activities saw more than 30,000 members of the public head over to Aspire Zone and participate in one of Aspire’s 14 exciting events including beach volleyball, mini-football tournaments, zumba and cycling competitions.

In bright and breezy weather, crowds of families turned out for the activity, which consisted of a 3.5km walk around a specially created outdoor and indoor circuit around the Aspire Zone. More than 2,500 people walked the full distance of the track, with the participants awarded an Aspire ‘goody bag’ for their efforts.

The ‘5,000 Step Journey,’ organised by Aspetar as part of its highly-acclaimed ‘Step into Health’ programme, was designed to encourage healthy eating and daily physical activity.  It is thought that over a million calories will have been burnt during the course of the event – with most walkers burning up to 450 calories during their journey.

For Santoso Liu, from Indonesia, the journey was the perfect family outing. The 40-year-old father of two said:

5,000 steps seems like a long distance but was actually one of the most simple and enjoyable events that I participated in today…I undertook the journey with my wife and daughters and it was great for us to walk in the sunshine and chat as we exercised.’

The ‘5,000 Step Journey’ was one of the most attended AZF activities of the day. For many, such as Sarah Billings, a 28-year-old from the UK, it was also the main reason to attend the Aspire Zone on National Sports Day. She said:

My colleagues spotted this event online and we all decided to come along together and have a good chat as we walked…It’s amazing really – none of us felt like we had properly exercised but all of us burnt close to 500 calories and walked a very long way. I am definitely going to try and do more walking in the future as a result of this.’

Hans Baker travelled to Qatar with his family all the way from Australia just to be in Doha for National Sport day, having been intrigued by the idea, and took part in the ‘Family Boot Camp’ session.

I found that I’ve still got it despite the fact that I’m a 70-year-old grandfather…I am impressed by the number of people at Aspire today as well as the number of sporting activities on offer, because people outside the region hold certain stereotypes about people in the Gulf region being lazy, which is clearly not true. Qatar and the Aspire Zone are truly an amazing place to be in terms of sports.’

Elsewhere at Aspire six male teams participated in the Qatar Flag Football league, a sport similar to American football. Mumtaz Mohammed, 27-year-old captain of the Qatar Flag Football Team was impressed by the interest showed in this lesser-known sport. He said:

It makes me so happy to see so many people here at Aspire interested in my sport because flag football is a relatively new sport in Qatar…When I started playing a year ago there were only about five people interested in playing, but here on National Sport Day I am surprised by the interest and have already spotted quite a few talented players.’

Youssef Al Kuwari, Founder of the Qatar Flag American Football Club said that significant interest in this sport was galvanised at last year’s National Sport Day. He said:

Last year’s event marked the start of the growing interest especially after we performed a show game, which encouraged people to join the team…In 2012 we only had seven players who gathered in a park and played just for fun and now we are proud to announce that with the continuing support of Aspire Zone Foundation, we have six teams, 50 registered players and four International professional coaches, with a dedicated field for our training sessions at Aspire.’

Meanwhile, indoors at the Aspire Dome, crowds gathered to test their fitness and performance levels at the ‘Football Performance & Science’ and ‘Performance & Science: The Learning Lab’ activities. During the learning lab, sports enthusiasts were given the opportunity to compare their sprinting and throwing speeds, as well as their jumping height, with some of the world’s greatest athletes including, Lionel Messi, Usain Bolt and Michael Jordan.

Jonathan Andreas from the UK said:

My 8-year-old daughter ran 20 meters in 3.42 seconds, which is one second slower than Messi…The coach was amazed at her record, noting her fast take-off and talent. I would never have known that we had a potential champion runner in the family if it wasn’t for Aspire’s National Sport Day event, so I’m overjoyed to have brought my family here today.’

5000 steps 1In continued efforts to unite the whole community on National Sport Day, Aspire also hosted more than 20 private and governmental organisations including Ras Gas, Qatar Shell, Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, and the Qatar Football Association, who each held their own sporting activities. Aspire also ran two competitions with prizes including an iPhone 5s, iPod, iPad and gift vouchers up for grabs.

Last year, Aspire’s National Sport Day celebrations attracted more than 25,000 Qatari residents and this year, Aspire’s third annual National Sport Day spectacular dazzled the crowds even more as Aspire Zone Foundation continues to lead the way towards healthy living in the local community.