Dragon boat racing could play a vital role in the various initiatives to transform Qatar into a leading sports tourism destination in the region.
This was the view of Qatar Dragon Boat founder Jeff Ching, who spoke to 'Gulf Times
' on the sidelines of the QNB 2020 Qatar Winter Dragon Boat Festival awards ceremony at the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) Park Friday. Dragon boat racing has a strong potential for sports tourism, said Ching, citing the world championships held two years ago in Hungary, which attracted 6,500 athletes around the world.
Some of the participating teams during the race
The winning teams after the race
Qatar Dragon Boat founder Jeff Ching
"Dragon boat racing is a very comprehensive sport that could achieve all types of objectives, whether sports tourism or encouraging people to live a healthy and active lifestyle; it is a very versatile sport," Ching stressed. He continued: "At the moment, not many people here know what dragon boat racing is all about."
"Our previous events were able to gather many participants, so this sport still has a lot of potential for growth; and involving government is important in further promoting this sport."
Compared to previous editions, this year's venue was an opportunity to showcase the race to a wider audience, said Ching. "This year, we decided to hold the event at the MIA Park, and QNB was our title sponsor; they really helped us a lot. Also, the MIA Park attracts a huge and diverse community; that's why thousands were able to witness and enjoy the race," Ching pointed out, adding that the eighth edition of the race, "is getting more mainstream."
"This is the first time that a big sponsor had supported our event. And we're developing more partnerships with local entities. This sport is for everyone and we're glad that many people are learning more about dragon boat racing," he explained.
Friday's competition culminated with the awarding of medals and trophies to all the winners. In the Recreational League (Grand final), the winners were Parsons Power Paddlers, 1st place; International Dragons (2nd); and Stantec Force (3rd). In the Minor Final, the winner was QNB Vikings.
The Consolation A Final was awarded to Poulettes on Fire, while the Consolation B Final was given to Ox Fitness.
In the Premiere League (Grand Final) Women's Category, K1 Kasagwan Dragon Boat Crew clinched third place, while Philippine Dragonboat Rowing Team (PDRT) Fireblades Qatar landed in second place. Masterpiece Qatar (MP Qatar) emerged as the champion in the category. In the Open Category (Grand Final), the champions were MP Qatar, followed by K1 for the second place, and PDRT settling for third.
The Mixed Category (Grand Final) was dominated by champions MP Qatar, followed by Angry Dragons landing in second place, and PDRT winning third place. Ching said Qatar Dragon Boat has around 50 nationalities as members. It's mission is to promote dragon boat racing at all levels of competition in Qatar. Since 2014, Qatar Dragon Boat has introduced over 3,000 participants to dragon boat racing through the group's competitions and team building activities.