“The Federation of International Lacrosse welcomes Qatar as its 58th member. David Heywood and Gibran al-Bader of the Qatar Lacrosse Association (QLA) have done an outstanding job of building their program on a sound foundation of youth development.”
—Bob DeMarco, FIL Director of Development
David Heywood, a British expatriate, founded the QLA in 2015. Later that year, Qatari Gibran Jamal Nasser S. al-Bader, joined the QLA as its Director. Together they would create and apply a strategic plan to drive the development of lacrosse in Qatar.
Realizing that lacrosse was an entirely new sport in Qatar, Heywood and al-Bader have taken a “from the ground up” approach to the introduction of the sport in the country. Development efforts have focused on youth development primarily, with much progress achieved.
“Our vision of uniting a proud sporting Qatar sees us active alongside educational, sport and community groups delivering lacrosse. Our view is that by doing so we can enhance the experience of studying, working and living in Qatar.”
—David Heywood, QLA Founder and Co-CEO
The sport is growing quickly in Qatar, capturing the interest of education, sport and community groups. The QLA developed a reach-out campaign that resulted in opportunities to expand its network and seek out potential players, program hosts, and advocates.
“Initially, we brought together sports enthusiasts who expressed an interest through our reach-out campaign for small recreational gatherings. Most participants had little or no experience with lacrosse, and we found that hosting clinics provided the perfect platform to introduce lacrosse to junior, youth, and adults to learn the fundamentals of the sport and have fun.”
--Gibran al-Bader, QLA Director and Co-CEO
As a result of these efforts, Lacrosse is now a part of the physical education curriculum at GEMS American Academy, Al Wakrah.
In 2016, Heywood and al-Bader developed a pilot program with Jose Romero, Head of Health and Physical Education at GEMS American Academy, to include lacrosse in the GEMS curriculum. The QLA provided resources and literature for the GEMS teaching staff to use in lesson planning.
“The success of the pilot program and positive feedback from our students was more than enough to move the sport to the next level. As a result, we have since expanded our program to grades 8 (13yrs) and 10 (15yrs) with a great response.”
—Jose Romero, Head of Health and Physical Education at GEMS American Academy, Qatar
The QLA plans to work with GEMS to develop the sport with other schools in the community, ultimately developing lacrosse teams to compete interscholastically.
According to Heywood, it is the challenging, yet rewarding work carried out by the QLA that is steering lacrosse programs into schools, colleges, and universities — while at the same time evolving the sport’s reach to community organizations by facilitating academy programs.
In October of 2016, the QLA was awarded a full equipment grant by the FIL, which was and will be used to facilitate pilot programs with education, sport, and community-based hosts.
“The QLA received a lot of support from the FIL Development Committee, and we now look forward to broadening our community reach,” said Heywood.
“We are truly overjoyed to be a member of FIL,” added al-Bader. “FIL recognition and acceptance into the global lacrosse community is an honor. The opportunity presented to us will fuel our efforts with local and national government bodies to further the sport’s growth in a sustainable way for the people of Qatar.”