“You go on the pitch and you want to play,” said the former captain of the Netherlands side that won the European Championship in 1988. “The design is fantastic, and of course there’s the air conditioning.”Asked about the stadium’s $575 million price tag, spectator Sunil Moorkanat, 52, said “it is worth it”.“It’s the whole infrastructure you have to look at. The ambience is fantastic and all the amenities,” added the engineer from India who has been living in Qatar for six years.Officials had promised that the stadium would be “one of the loudest stadiums” in the world because of its design.Groups of fans, many of whom wore pristine white Qatari thobes, drummed and sang as Al-Sadd held Al-Duhail to a tense 1-1 stalemate at half-time.Of the eight stadiums Qatar is building or refurbishing for 2022, Khalifa International was already open and will host this year’s World Athletics Championships.Al-Wakrah, 15 kilometres south of the capital Doha, will be used in the World Cup for fixtures up to and including quarter-finals.Its capacity will be reduced to 20,000 after the global soccer spectacle.The stadium was one of Hadid’s last major designs before her death in March 2016, aged 65.“Hadid would have loved to be here — but her spirit is,” added Al-Jaber, the spectator.The project has not been without controversy and Hadid took successful legal action after it was claimed she did not care about the rights of workers involved in its construction.Share on: WhatsApp FILE PHOTO: Al-Wakrah stadium.Al Wakrah, Qatar | AFP | Qatar inaugurated its first purpose-built stadium for the 2022 World Cup on Thursday, staging a prestigious domestic cup final in the $575 million, 40,000-capacity Al-Wakrah venue.The ground, designed by late British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid and located in a coastal town south of Doha, erupted into cheers as Emir Cup finalists Al-Sadd and Al-Duhail ran onto the pitch.There were some traffic jams and tight security checks as the ground, which was nearly full for the prestigious fixture, began to fill ahead of kick-off.“I’ve travelled the world and I’ve been to stadiums in different cities including the UK,” said Yousef al-Jaber, a 35-year-old oil company research director from Doha.“Finally I was able to go to one in Qatar that is world-class,” added the Chelsea fan who watched the game with his wife and two sons.“It’s a one of a kind, it’s a futuristic design. Al-Wakrah is a coastal city and the architecture is inspired by that.”Qatar’s emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani tweeted on his verified account ahead of kick-off that the ground’s name would be changed to “Al Janoub stadium” meaning “stadium of the south”.The venue’s distinctive retractable roof — meant to resemble the sails of a traditional dhow fishing boat — is made of 1,400 pieces and was shipped to Qatar from Italy.It was plunged into darkness for the pre-match show and performers assembled around a giant illuminated inflatable pearl on the centre of the manicured pitch.– ‘It is worth it’ –A video describing the Gulf nation’s history as a pearling station played on the ground’s two big screens.The pearl then slowly transformed into a representation of the Emir Cup trophy before a 150-strong marching band serenaded the stadium.Former Dutch international Ruud Gullit, who attended the ground’s maiden game, called it “a beautiful stadium”.
Middlesex golfers Sian Whitbread and Paul Dimmer booked a trip to Portugal with the European Tour when they held their nerve to win today’s English GolfSixes final at the Centurion Club.The pair from Haste Hill Golf Cub triumphed on a tough play-off hole after winning their group and going head-to-head with the victors from the other side of the draw.They took on the 166-yard challenge which has faced Tour players over the last two years, when GolfSixes was played at the Hertfordshire venue. And, despite a head wind and the intimidating water feature just off the green, they came up trumps in the greensomes event.Dimmer ignored his nerves to send his tee shot into the heart of the green, Whitbread rolled the putt to within 1ft of the hole, leaving her partner a tap-in.With their handicap allowance of 0.7 on the hole they pipped their challengers, Dennis Swain and Andy Simon of West Essex. They too parred the hole but received just 0.3.The win brings Whitbread and Dimmer a luxury trip to Cascais in Portugal to play in the 12-hole pro-am ahead of the European Tour’s 2019 GolfSixes tournament, on June 7-8. They will stay on as the Tour’s guests to watch the championship.Andy Stubbs of the European Tour told competitors: “GolfSixes is something we are very, very proud of and the winners will come to Portugal and join us for a great experience.”Whitbread and Dimmer took their place in today’s England Golf final after winning the men’s and women’s qualifiers at Haste Hill, a municipal club in Northwood. Dimmer is the club captain.Their outing today was their first as a greensomes pairing and they played their six holes in level par 26, net 22, to top the leaderboard for their loop. On the other loop, Swain and Simon were round in two-under gross, net 19.9, to win their section and make the deciding play-off.Afterwards, Dimmer commented: “I’m drained, physically, emotionally and mentally, but I’m also exhilarated.“It’s been a phenomenal event and we’ve enjoyed it immensely. It’s probably the biggest single achievement of our sporting lives and we hope to represent England Golf in a way they will be proud of.”Whitbread, a retired payroll manager, and Dimmer, who works in the operating theatres at Harefield Hospital, are both board members at their club and keen to introduce more people to the game – and would recommend GolfSixes. “It’s a way to get more people involved when they haven’t got much time, it’s a perfect format,” said Dimmer.“I’ve only been playing golf for seven years and today shows that you can get into golf and do something phenomenal if you have the right partner and the right circumstances!”The fun, fast format of GolfSixes has proved a great hit as a European Tour event and has captured the enthusiasm of huge numbers of juniors – and the Golf Foundation’s 2019 GolfSixes League will launch this weekend. England Golf’s partnership with the Tour has seen the format rolled out to club members, culminating in today’s final.This is being replicated in Finland and Denmark, which will also send representatives to the pro-am.Image copyright Leaderboard Photograhy 2 May 2019 GolfSixes champions book a trip to Portugal Tags: Centurion Club, GolfSixes, grassroots golf
by Malik VincentWith two weeks already in the books, members of the Allegheny County Midget Football League can enjoy another year of “Xs and Os” as they kicked off the 2010 season Aug. 14. It features a new team, the East End Raiders.“This team is comprised mostly of players from Larimer and Highland Park,” said ACMFL President Jose Regus SHOWTIME AT ‘THE SWAMP’—Wilkinsburg Twerps running back Kwame Brown proved to be too much for the Garfield Gators. The ACMFL season is 10 games that will run into early November. The rest of the teams are Braddock, Clairton, Garfield, Hill District, Homewood, Lincoln, North Side, North Shore and Wilkinsburg.“I played in the league myself,” said Regus. “To my best knowledge, this league has been running for over 50 years. My older brother also played. It has been around for quite some time. It is very important to me, and I’m sure everyone that is involved, as well.”The league is made up of five different subdivisions that are determined by each participant’s age and weight. Chronologically, from smallest to biggest, it goes: Baby Twerps, Twerps, Termites, Mighty Mites, and Midgets.“I want to acknowledge the fact that we’ve run into some difficulties at the beginning of the season,” Regus said. “But since, it’s been all about the kids. Some great football has been played and that makes me even more excited about what’s in store for this year.”In Week 2 action the Wilkinsburg Twerps came focused and ready to play as they made an early season visit to Fort Pitt AKA “The Swamp” Aug. 21 to face the Garfield Gators. A strong ground game and good defense proved to be all the Wilkinsburg team needed as they rode to an 18-0 victory and improved to 2-0 on the season. The Gators fell to 1-1.On Aug. 22, the North Shore Stallions protected their home field as the fought their way to an 18-0 victory at Oliver Field over the East End Raiders and improved to 2-0 for the season. They were led by No. 47 Melvin Blanks as he turned in an MVP-like performance, finishing the game with two touchdowns and one interception.The ACMFL has a new website this year that keeps its participants, their families, and all followers of the organization abreast as to what is happening throughout the season. It can be accessed at http://acmfl.webs.com/statsschedulescores.htm.(K. Neely contributed to this story.)
Canada forward Sidney Crosby, far right, stands with teammates for the Canadian national anthem after beating Sweden 3-0 in the men’s gold medal ice hockey game at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)PITTSBURGH (AP) – Sidney Crosby’s second Olympic experience was last dramatic and just as rewarding.Crosby returned from Sochi, Russia, with his second Olympic gold medal, this one as the captain of the Canadian team. Leading a national team certainly brings a different sense of responsibility, but the same expectation.“I think everybody feels a sense of pride, but also a sense of relief knowing you were able to do what everybody expected,” Crosby said Wednesday. “It’s not easy to win, but to be able to go in there with the goal of winning and achieve it is a great feeling.”Now, Crosby and fellow Canadian gold medalist Chris Kunitz are ready for a return to normalcy in the NHL, joining head coach Dan Bylsma and five Olympic teammates, including Russia’s Evgeni Malkin, as the first-place Penguins prepare for a stretch run that features 24 games in 46 days.“It’s good to get into a routine again,” Crosby said. “Managing rest is something we definitely have to keep in mind.”Canada steamrolled through Sochi, allowing three goals in six games for its third gold medal in the last four Olympics and record ninth overall.“Everybody talks about our defense, but I think we were able to control the puck a lot in the offensive zone and when you do that teams don’t get a lot of time or energy to come against you,” Crosby said.The Canadians, who became the first team to go unbeaten through the Olympic tournament in 30 years, never trailed, a dominating effort that culminated in back-to-back shutouts of the United States and Sweden in the semifinals and gold medal game.“The last three games, especially, we were at our best, but I think we got better as it went on,” Crosby said. “The scores were close, but we felt like we controlled the last three games and played the way we wanted to.”Once again, Crosby’s shining moment came in the gold medal game, this time during the second period against Sweden when he deked goaltender Henrik Lundqvist to the ice before depositing a backhander across the line.“We hadn’t had a two-goal lead that often up to that point and with the way we had been playing to get a two-goal lead was nice,” Crosby said. “I think that was going through my mind more than the fact that I hadn’t scored yet.”It didn’t carry the weight of his Golden Goal, the 2010 overtime game-winner against the Americans, but Crosby’s first goal of the tournament effectively clinched the gold medal for the defensive-minded Canadians.“It was a great experience,” Crosby said. “Obviously, winning makes it better.”It was a different experience for Malkin, who came up empty at the Olympics after the host Russians were eliminated on their home soil in the quarterfinal round by Finland.“It’s not easy, it’s always tough,” Malkin said. “I remember in Vancouver we lost and now it’s worse.“Of course it’s pressure, we played at home. I know everyone played hard, 100 percent, we played together and I think it’s tough to have lost.”Bylsma understands Malkin’s disappointment and challenged his star forward to channel the emotion and try to help the Penguins to a deep run in the Stanley Cup playoffs.“They had the Olympics at their venue,” Bylsma said. “This was their gold medal to win. There’s disappointment. I talked to Evgeni and probably the third thing out of his mouth (was) Stanley Cup. We need to come back here and focus on that.”