Patty has never been a big football fan, but the World Cup has done something amazing to this member of the Qatar Airways cabin crew.
The Thai national landed in Doha only on Monday morning after a 13-hour flight from Japan.
Despite getting only a few hours of sleep, Patty turned up with her compatriot and Qatar Airways colleague, Ivy, at the Al Janoub Stadium for Japan’s round of 16 clash with Croatia.
Attending a World Cup match was not the sole aim for these two Thai girls. They also wanted to support Japan for Rika, their Japanese friend and colleague at Qatar Aiways.
“I just landed from Japan this morning. As you know, it can be tiring after such a long flight, but I was so excited to come here for this match,” Patty told this reporter.
“I had planned with our friends. I was praying for everything to be perfect, no flight delays and all, so I could be right on time for the start of the match with our friends.
“So here I am now for a World Cup match and also for Rika and Japan. It’s an Asian team and we are so proud of Japan and South Korea of their performance in this World Cup.”
Wearing the Japanese jersey and waving their national flag, Patty was showing her support to Rika’s team as passionately as any of the Japanese fans at the stadium on Monday.
“It feels amazing to be coming here with my friends from Thailand for this Japan match. Their support really makes me proud as a Japanese,” said Rika, who has moved to Doha only a couple of months ago.
“I am very new in Doha, so I don’t know any Japanese people that live here. So to come here with my two friends from Thailand who are supporting Japan, it means a lot to me,” she said.
Meanwhile, Ivy, who has been living in Qatar for 10 years, admitted that she would not have been to a World Cup game in Qatar if her football-mad father had not pushed her.
“I am not much into football, but my brother and my father are very big football fans. They kept telling me ‘you have to go and watch at least a match, it’s happening right in front of your house. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance for you to watch a World Cup match’. They kept telling me,” she told this reporter.
“And I am glad that I came here. It’s an amazing atmosphere. If it had not happened in Qatar, I don’t think I would have ever travelled abroad to watch a World Cup match.
“Now here it’s happening in Qatar, almost in front of my house. So I have to come, even though I am not a big football fan.”
Back home in Thailand, Ivy’s brother and father are also supporting the Asian teams.
“My family is all for the Asian teams at the World Cup. And yes, I also am supporting Japan obviously for Rika. It’s a beautiful moment for us to be here. It means a lot to be here, enjoy the occasion and meet fans from so many different countries,” she said.
The three girls were accompanied by Fui, a Malaysian national, who works for Qatar Gas.
“Badminton was my link to these girls. We all play badminton on the weekends here in Qatar. So badminton brought us together for a game of World Cup football,” Fui said.
“But, you know, I am not really supporting Japan because I have been a Luka Modric fan, so Croatia is my team.”
Fui says he can never thank Qatar enough for giving them a chance to experience an event like the World Cup.
“I appreciate this a lot because people from different backgrounds have got a chance to come together and experience the World Cup in Qatar where we live,” he said.
“And these girls, they have been my best of friends in this country. It means so much to be able to come here for a World Cup match with them!”
It is understood that the UAE with three venues — Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah — are favourites to host the tournament but the decision has been withheld for the time being
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