The late Sultan was a great supporter of Oman’s sporting development and growth and helped establish many a sporting association and federation that has fuelled Oman’s progress in sport
Haridev Pushparaj –
Oman’s journey as a sporting nation has come a long way since the time His Majesty Sultan Qaboos took over the reins of the country on July 23, 1970.
The late Sultan was a great supporter of Oman’s sporting development and growth and helped establish many a sporting association and federation that has fueled Oman’s progress in sport.
One of the first sports associations to be formed in Oman was the Oman Football Association (OFA). It was only befitting that Oman’s first sporting love, football, would get its own association that would give direction to the sport.
The OFA was founded in the year 1978 with the present HM Sultan Haitham bin Tarik managing the affairs as its first chairman.
With the establishment of the OFA, Oman’s journey in the world of football began where they would eventually make rapid strides.
In 1996 and 2000, Oman’s under-17 team had emerged as the champions of Asia and in 1995, the Oman U-17 team had finished fourth in the Fifa U-17 World Championship held in Ecuador.
Oman’s senior national team clinched the Arabian Gulf Cup in 2009 on home soil and again won the coveted title in 2017/18 in Kuwait.
Oman’s exploits in football started getting more prominence abroad after the overseas stint of the legendary Oman goalkeeper Ali al Habsi, who retired recently.
Ali al Habsi made his foray into the English Premier League in 2006 with Bolton Wanderers and was there until 2011 and then played for Wigan Athletic from 2011-2015.
Ali was one of the first players from the Middle East to play in the Premier League and his eventual success had as much to do with his stupendous talent and hardwork as much as it did to the patronage of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos for the sport in the country.
Formation of OOC
A few years after the establishment of the OFA, Oman also became a part of the Olympic movement as they formed the Oman Olympic Committee (OOC) in 1982.
The OOC became one among the 200 odd National Olympic Committees (NOC) that are a part of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
With its inclusion at the OOC, Oman began participating at the Asian Games and the Summer Olympics flying its flag proudly among the comity of the Olympic nations.
Oman in cricket
One of Oman’s great sporting developments in recent years has been in the field of cricket. With the long patronage of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos and the active involvement of the present His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik, Oman cricket has rose through the ranks.
With their qualification to the World T20 in 2016, Oman made its mark on the world stage competing against tougher and more fancied opponents.
Now, having qualified for the ICC World T20 this year, Oman has taken one step further in its ambitions to become a major cricketing nation. With the qualification process for the 2023 Cricket World Cup underway, Oman has much to play for.
Oman in tennis
Tennis has been an area where Oman has excelled in over the years and one name bears testimony to the mark it has made: Fatma al Nabhani.
Fatma has been the flagbearer of Oman tennis for the longest time having won 10 ITF singles titles in her career and having reached a career best singles ranking of 362 in the world.
In doubles, Fatma has 13 ITF titles with a highest ranking of 238 and she also has a win-loss record of 13-7 for Oman in the Fed Cup.
Oman in athletics
Oman’s athletics scene in the last decade has been dominated by Barakat al Harthy, who has been the most prolific sprinter for the Sultanate.
The Ibra-born lad clinched a historic bronze at the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, China. Barakat has been inspiring several young sprinters and athletes to bring laurels for Oman ever since the feat.
Oman in golf
Oman is today home to the elite Oman Open which is part of the prestigious European Tour and that has been Oman’s greatest achievement in golf.
Hosting an event of this stature speaks volumes about the rapid strides Oman has made in terms of being a top-notch golfing destination.
Oman Golf Committee will soon become an association reflecting the increasing popularity and recognition it is beginning to get in the Sultanate.
Oman in sailing
Sailing is part of Oman’s ancient folklore with the tales of Sinbad emanating from this land. Oman has pursued a highly professional sailing structure under the Oman Sail programme. His Majesty Sultan Qaboos showed tremendous faith in the pursuit of excellence in this arena and Oman Sail has hosted several events including the Extreme Sailing Series, EFG Sailing
Arabia — The Tour and several others and also produced many sailors along the way.
Musab al Hadi and Waleed al Kindi have also put up strong performances and have a chance of qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in the 49er category.
The duo had won the 2019 49er Championships in Abu Dhabi last year and this is first of the five events leading up to the 2020 49er Asian
Championships in March. The event will decide the final 49ers spot on offer for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.