MUSCAT, MARCH 4 -
The National Museum under the auspices of His Highness Sayyid Nader bin Mohammed bin Abbas al Said, inaugurated 23rd Arabian Gulf Cup Exhibition and the launch of the ‘Oman, the champions of 23rd Arabian Gulf Cup’ postage stamps.
In the centre of the room in a glass case is the glory of the national football team of Oman — the trophy and sharing the same space is the commemorative envelope and set of four stamps issued by Oman Post on the occasion of Oman winning of the 23rd Arabian Gulf Cup in Kuwait in January.
One of the 500 baisas stamps sees the team in red with the soccer ball in the middle, another one portrays artistic impression of the event, while the third stamp worth 500 baisas features the cheering fans in the balcony holding a long flag. The 200 baisas stamp has the goalkeeper Fayez al Rushaidi in yellow diving to block the penalty against the UAE.
The stars of the winning team have their individual photographs on the wall and across the room is the bench the visitor can sit on to watch moments of the finals that brought the Gulf Cup to Oman. Tourists visiting the museum stood watching the video, while one tourist said, “I hear the football coach of Oman is Dutch. It is great to watch this excitement on the video.”
Dutchman Pim Verbeek led the Oman team as head coach to the Gulf Cup glory in Kuwait.
Every Monday, the entrance is free for citizens and residents.
The exhibit also throws light on the history of football in Oman. Oman Football Association (OFA) was founded in 1978 and was officially re-declared in 1983. It is one of the largest Omani sports association in Oman as it has 43 clubs. However, one learns at the exhibition that it was only in 2007 when the first official elections was held to form the first elected Board of Directors for the OFA which also saw the attendance of the Fifa representative. Sayyid Khalid al Busaidy was elected as the Chairman of the Board of Directors.
But the OFA had already become a member in both the Fifa and the Union of Arab Football Associations in 1978 and the Asian Football Confederation in 1980.
The OFA organises many tournaments and the ever popular national event is His Majesty Cup. The first time Oman won the Gulf Cup was in 2009 as hosts. Oman Youth Team won the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U–17 Championship held in Thailand in 1996 and in Vietnam in 2000. Meanwhile, the team had reached the fourth place in the 1995 Fifa U–17 World Championship in Ecuador.
But the spirit of football had begun even before all this because the formation of Maqboul Club as the first sporting club in the Sultanate was seen in 1942. This club was later renamed as Oman Club.
There have been wonderful moments for players too — Mohammed bin Amir al Kathiri became the first ever Omani player to receive the Asian Young Footballer of the Year award in 2002.
Hani al Dhabit became the first Omani player to receive the Golden Shoe Award of the 15th Arabian Gulf Cup in 2002.
The year 2003 saw Ali al Habsi receiving the Best Goalkeeper Award at the Arabian Gulf Cup and he continued the magic in the years in 2004, 2007 and 2009.
The Video of the exhibition at the National Museum can be viewed @omanobserver Facebook page.