Sons of Oman, don’t be passive and settle for okay. I challenge you to go out there and do things that are not only within your realm of possibility, but greater than that, within your culture, heritage and probability!
For more than ten years I have watched a generation of Omanis do their ‘five o’clock thing,’ of speeding down to their local football pitches, most of which you would never get a ‘real’ footballer to play on for fear of skinning their knees, to play football. Half pull on hi-vis vests in made-up sides, with late arrivals siding with the team with the least players, and they charge around like headless chickens, thinking they are Messi or Ronaldo and can dribble through the entire opposition, before beating the keeper with a thunderbolt shot from 20 metres.
Truth is, it rarely happens, in fact, in all my footy-watching here it’s never happened. And while I love the enthusiasm, it pales quickly as I look for skill, and truth to tell, there isn’t a lot on show.
I actually don’t think that Omanis are all that good at football, or for that fact is anyone in the Middle East. For me there’s just not enough genuine effort or commitment to the needs of the game, or enough belief in the other members of the team. The Gulf Cup is an indication, with far too much selfishness, and far too little trust, with players from all the teams woefully neglecting players in better scoring positions, looking for that ‘miracle’ goal!
Play for fun by all means, play for exercise certainly, but you can forget the dream of playing for Barcelona or Real Madrid. It just ain’t gonna happen! Even New Zealand, my home country, by comparison, has one semi-professional team, only 200,000 school and club players, yet have been to two World Cup Finals, and have almost all of the national team playing in European and American Premier or Professional Leagues. By comparison, Oman has ……….
Instead, why not turn to sports that are ideally suited to you through both your heritage and your body type?
Oman is historically acknowledged as a seafaring nation, living “by the sea, for the sea, and because of the sea,” its boat-builders, seamen and fishermen lauded across centuries. Why not take that inheritance and look at yachting as a sport that can bring glory to your country, honour to your family and a great lifestyle to you. Maybe no fortune, but fame, at least in the wake of Ahmed bin Majid maybe?
What about running, and especially middle-distance and endurance events. Sharing many of the physical attributes of the North African athletes, how on earth is Oman not a hotbed of international athletic talent? Your fathers and forefathers displayed considerable endurance and strength in their desert treks and trading pasts, which must surely be residual in you. These were hardy individuals, maybe not all testing themselves as globally as Ibn Batuta, but surely you can imagine the dangers and endurance required trekking to and from the Omani trading centre that was Nizwa, in the time of Sultan bin Saif Al Yarubi and before.
Finally, I do understand Oman doesn’t have a cycling ‘heritage’ as such, but to me, Omanis appear perfectly built for cycling, being light, lean, muscular, and with a passion for speed. It may be a costly sport to ‘get into,’ but I did see somewhere an initiative was launched with bikes available to young Omanis, and although the roads, and the climate may not always appear conducive, balance the heat against snow and ice!
Today’s athletes can gain scholarships and travel opportunities that can offer, in turn, life opportunities, glory, wealth, and national prominence, and best of all enhancing the nation’s global identity, thus developing tourism. So, in your boats, on your bikes, or on your feet,” just do it,” as nobody has ever said before.