Mondays with Matthew (on Tuesday): Sport – let the games begin

Posted by Matthew Lodge

lewis

The United Kingdom has a new champion! Formula 1 racing driver Lewis Hamilton was crowned world champion at the end of yesterday’s end of season Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi. British newspapers are full of images of a jubilant Hamilton and headlines such as the “Start of something special” and “Best day of my life”. Perhaps the fact that he beat his team-mate and long-term rival, German driver Nico Rosberg, makes the victory seem even sweeter. For the UK, our rivalry with our European friends always adds an extra twist to the competition.

So what if journalists play down the fact that Hamilton and Rosberg both drive for a German team? Painful memories of England’s exit from this summer’s FIFA World Cup, and Germany’s victory, are long forgotten. Glory is in the moment and the victor enjoys the adulation. Who cares if Germany won the World Cup, we have Lewis!

Well, lots of people care, and not just 80 million justifiably proud Germans (congratulations mein Freund), but that was last summer.

Today, I feel Kuwait’s pain. Losing 0-5 to Oman last week appears to have caused a national shock. As a Briton, I’m not unused to sporting disappointment. Don’t misunderstand me, I am no football expert. I enjoy a kick-around with the kids, but that’s it for soccer. However, I learned a few years ago that it’s very difficult for a British Ambassador not to take an interest in sport, and football in particular. This initially posed a problem for me. Apart from my rather limited ball-skills, I had grown up playing rugby, hockey, and athletics. I have always enjoyed watching the World Cup and European Championships, but not much more. Suddenly I needed a “team”. Naturally, I chose Liverpool. I was born there. I also remember Kevin Keegan, John Toshack and Kenny Dalglish. So I have become a Liverpool supporter. At least I’ll never walk alone.

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Except, here in Kuwait, I keep meeting Arsenal or Chelsea fans. Why is that? Where are all the Liverpool supporters? I did meet a Tottenham supporter the other day. And of course, I know about Kuwaiti links with Nottingham Forest and Ebbsfleet United. I’ve even met some enthusiastic Kuwaitis who fly to the UK to watch the occasional match before heading home again the following day. That’s more dedicated than I’d ever be, but it’s great to know that football is so popular here. It has also been good to learn about other Kuwaiti sporting interests – and successes: the shooting team and other medallists at the Asian Games in South Korea this autumn; the early morning cycling clubs out on the Gulf road every Friday; the numerous youth football clubs playing across the city; and the Triathlon that took place last month. People taking part in these activities may have been disappointed too by last week’s score. But they keep training, enjoy the competition, and play for the fun and thrill of the game.

People always rediscover their love of sport. Anyone and everyone can have a go. It brings people together. What do you think of sport in Kuwait today? Can more be done to help people enjoy the benefits it brings, and the joy it can give?

Post by Matthew Lodge
British Ambassador to Kuwait
Instagram: @HMAMatthewLodge Twitter: @HMAMatthewLodge


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Red Bull Failaka Showdown

Posted by Mark

This is a new promotional video for Red Bull Kuwait in which they’ve pit a free-runner against a drifter and shot the whole thing on Failaka Island. It’s a well made made video that will make you want to go exploring around Failaka. [YouTube]

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Sun & Sand Sports Opening Soon

Posted by Mark

sunandsand

Sun & Sand Sports, the largest sporting goods retailer in the Middle East will be opening their first store in Kuwait next month. The store is located in Salmiya behind Zahra Complex and I passed by yesterday and managed to get a sneak peek at the place. Sun & Sand Sports will be composed of two floors, the lower floor for men and the top floor for women, kids and sports equipment. One thing I was curious to see was if their Nike collection would be different from the main Nike store since Sun & Sand are actually the exclusive distributors for Nike in the Middle East. But since everything was covered in plastic sheets I couldn’t get a good look. They’re hoping to open the store October 1st if everything goes according to plan, here is the location on [Google Maps]


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Escape to Oman

Posted by Mark

oman1

Ali Husain has been organizing trips to Oman for awhile now but I only recently found out about them through a friend of mine. Ali is a Kuwaiti who used to travel to Oman on a monthly basis to hike and discover new places but he ended up completely moving there back in 2012 because he loved the place so much.

According to Ali, the mountains in Oman are rugged yet majestic and unfortunately, not many people know about the real beauty of Oman. It always upsets him every time he asks a person about Oman and the only thing they know is the Shangri-La hotel which is not a representation of anything real in Oman. Oman has so many hidden jewels, unique mountains, caves and waterfalls to offer but no one is willing to put the effort to leave the comfort of a hotel room. So, Ali decided to start a new outdoor community in the Gulf.

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Every few months Ali organizes trips to Oman from Kuwait. The trips are available usually on weekends and they are all about team work and creating a mini community in a magical setup. Everyone on these trips works together to set up camps, cut wood, cook meals, etc. It is a full on schedule usually for two days with hardly any sleep. There are no hotels or proper bathroom and everyone will have to go back to basics in everything.

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Right now Ali has two upcoming trips this October. The first trip is from October 9th to 11th and its to the the largest caving system in the region. It is an amazing experience like no other places on this planet. The second trip takes place from October 16th to October 18th and is to the summit of the highest point in the Gulf, Jebal Shams at 10,000 ft. The cost is KD150 per person and that includes food, beverages, camping gear and transportation but does not include airfare to Oman or any hotel stays before or after the trip. Most of the trips require a high level of endurance and acceptance is usually based on that.

So if you’re interested in exploring Oman you can contact Ali on husaak@gmail.com or whatsapp +96599635414. You can also follow him on instagram where you can see many more amazing pictures @husaak


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Al Batal on FOX Movies

Posted by Mark

Ray Elbe, the Kuwait based MMA fighter just finished filming season 2 of Al Batal, the first Arab MMA Reality TV show thats similar to the Ultimate Fighter but based out of the UAE. This is the second season and is going to feature 12 fighters of Arab ethnicity flown in from around the world to compete for the opportunity to be champion in either the 70 kilo or 84 kilo weight division. Ray is leading one of the teams on the show so if you’re interested, the show premiers September 27th on FOX Movies, check out the trailer above. [YouTube]

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Lillywhites is Opening in Kuwait

Posted by Mark

lillywhites

Lillywhites, UK’s oldest and the world’s largest sports store is going to be opening soon in Kuwait. They will be replacing all the current Go Sport locations in Kuwait including the huge Avenues location which is currently undergoing a major facelift in preparation for the opening sometime next month. If the brand sounds familiar it could be because you’ve seen their store in London which has been at Piccadilly Circus since 1863.

Full disclosure: I’m currently involved in this project but was only able to post about it now


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The Kuwait Bowling Club

Posted by Mark

bowling

The Bowling Club, said Al-Huwaidi, will be the largest of its kind in the Middle East with the main bowling hall providing 58 lanes for this sport’s enthusiasts. He indicated that a hotel, a gym, and a 1,000 capacity parking lot will be built alongside the club, hoping that such high tech facility will help boost the status of bowling in Kuwait. [Source]

Seems like overkill for an outdated activity like bowling. It actually sounds like a project from the 80s that was just given the go ahead now, kinda like if tomorrow they decided to build the largest roller skate arena in the Middle East, no one would care.

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Canada Beats Kuwait 91-0 in Under-19 American Football

Posted by Mark

footballinthesun

Host country Kuwait trailed 50-0 at halftime before eventually losing 91-0. In what looks to be a pretty accurate ranking, Canada is ranked No. 1 in the power rankings while Kuwait is ranked eighth. [Source]

I’m not surprised that Kuwait lost to #1 ranked Canada, what I’m surprised about is the fact this is taking place in Kuwait and no one knows about it. Also if they’re playing American Football in this weather all geared up then I don’t think the World Cup in Qatar is going to be an issue.

Thanks Ali


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The Best Sports Mixer

Posted by Mark

blenderbottle

I’ve gone through a whole bunch of sports mixers over the last few years and really wasn’t happy with any of them. The majority would either start falling apart after awhile, not mix my drink properly or worst of all, start leaking. Sports mixers are used to mix protein shakes, energy drinks or nutrition supplements and are pretty common with gym goers. Recently I noticed one of the protein stores I frequent (Health Planet) started carrying the Blender Bottle brand. I purchased a small bottle and I’m in love with it, by far the best sports mixer I’ve ever used. It’s really well made, looks great, does a great job of mixing because of the wire ball wisk inside and most importantly, it hasn’t leaked on me yet. There are two sizes of the sports mixer, 20oz and 28oz. The one I got which is pictured above is 20oz which is the perfect size for me. The price for both sizes are similar coming in at KD6.750 and KD6.950. So if you want to pick one they’re available at Health Planet.


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Skydiving in Bnaider

Posted by Mark

skydivebnaider

I spotted the flying boat yesterday down in Bnaider but had no idea they were planning on skydiving with it. Jumping out of a flying boat at 3,500 feet sounds absurd but they did it. Watch the video below.


[YouTube]

via Frankom


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