Jakir Hussein’s dream of watching the World Cup in Doha was nearly dashed by an accident, but he never gave up.
doha – If FIFA set up an award for the most tenacious fan, Jakir Hussein would be a fine contender.
His story – from Bangladesh to Qatar – is perhaps as dynamic and inspiring as Morocco’s, an obscure African side that reached the semi-finals of the FIFA World Cup.
Just a week before Hussein, 37, boarded a flight to Doha for the World Cup, the die-hard football fan from Dhaka – and Liverpool supporter – suffered a broken left leg and a wound on his arm after riding a motorcycle. Deep wound. ACCIDENT. That was in November.
Scarred, Hussain’s dreams of watching the World Cup in Doha – he even had a ticket to the final – were all but dashed.
“God has other plans,” he said Tong Ren Tang World In Doha, he is enjoying the World Cup frenzy with friends.
It’s an event he’s been planning for more than four years, and he’s not ready to give up.
Hussein is a sales director of a private company in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. Since 2018, he has been working hard towards his goal of participating in the World Cup in Qatar, and he will contribute 20% of his salary every month.
He estimates he saved $3,000 on World Cup costs, including tickets.
Since his brother and several friends and acquaintances live and work in Doha, Hussein had no trouble finding and booking cheap accommodation: a six-bedroom villa with three bathrooms and a large kitchen. Each room has five single beds.
Qataris make up just 10 percent of the Gulf state’s population of just over 2.5 million. While Indians make up 21.8 percent and Arabs 13 percent, Bangladeshis make up the fourth largest population group at 12.5 percent.
A direct flight from Bangladesh to Qatar — a five-hour journey — costs between $350-$400.
Jakir rented the villa for a month for just $800, a pittance considering a two-bedroom Doha apartment was listed for $1,200 a night in the run-up to the tournament. Long-term rents in Qatar are up more than 30% because of the World Cup.
He even has 19 stadium tickets for a month-long football festival.
But the accident disrupted his well-designed plan. He was released a day later with a cast on his left leg and a thick bandage on his arm.
“My wife, she wasn’t happy, but my doctor was a really nice person. He inspired me. He told me, ‘You’re going to the World Cup’. He wrote me a certificate saying I was fit to travel. He encouraged me because the World Cup is a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Hussain said.
Jakir knew it would be hard to convince his wife and family to travel to Doha in a wheelchair to watch the World Cup, so he asked his doctor to speak to them.
After a long debate, the family agreed. Hussein’s wife also spoke to his brother and friends in Doha.
A dream come true
When he finally landed in the Qatari capital, it all fell into place.
Sitting on his twin bed in an official Japan soccer jersey, which he admits is a replica, Hussain opened his large suitcase to pull out other team jerseys, neatly wrapped in plastic covers.
“I have 11 team jerseys in total. A friend of mine was traveling to Thailand before the World Cup. So I gave him some money to buy these jerseys for me,” he said.
“I bring all my jerseys with me. I want to enjoy the game. Every game I have a favorite team. Today I support Japan, tomorrow I support Brazil, the day after tomorrow I support England and then I support Belgium. Yesterday, I supported Argentina.”
His room is upstairs near the kitchen. The rich aroma of fish cooked in curry leaves wafts through the public areas.
“We buy our groceries and cook at home, which helps us save money, but here in Doha there are many Indian and Bangladeshi restaurants that are very cheap, so we don’t mind eating out too,” he said.
About an hour later, his friend who lives and works in Doha came to pick him up at his apartment. Japan take on Germany at the Khalifa International Stadium, with Hussein backing the Asian nation.
As his friend helped him into a wheelchair, Hussein said: “Being unable to walk due to broken bones is the biggest challenge for me, but I think I will get the help I need. A lot of people have told me that going into the stadium is not easy. There will be any problems.”
“My friends are so helpful. They take me everywhere and are there for me all the time. They take turns pushing my wheelchair. I’m grateful for my friends. All my friends,” he added.
At the stadium, volunteers steered him to the priority lane. His ticket was also changed from a regular seat to a handicapped seat.
When volunteers scanned his tickets at the stadium entrance, he said he had no control over the accident, but he did have the ability to enjoy the game.
“If I handle everything during this World Cup under the circumstances, I believe I can handle everything in the world,” he added, getting philosophical for a while.
His friend Asif interjects pushing his wheelchair.
“Football is life. We are here today to witness the World Cup. What more could we ask for?
Hussein couldn’t agree more.
Source: TRT World