Reflection: Cricket and Culture in Qatar 

By Matthew Turner, (SFS’23)

Georgetown University’s cricket teams enjoying a post-practice dinner

Over spring break, the Georgetown University Cricket Club traveled to the Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q) campus for a week of cricket, community building, and intercultural learning. The trip was an amazing experience for all involved: we developed friendships across the two campuses, explored Doha and everything Qatari culture had to offer, and created a space where we could all learn, share, and understand the common ideals and values that define us as Hoyas across the world.

Our first day saw us depart on an “Alternative Tour of Doha”—led by GU-Q Staff Uday and Jibin. Both Uday and Jibin grew up in Doha in non-Qatari families, and the team appreciated the opportunity to discuss their experiences and the challenges and successes in the development of Doha. The tour set the tone for the trip—whilst Uday and Jibin were supporters of much of the progress in Qatar, they were equally happy to frankly address many of the challenges around progress with us. 

After lunch at the main market center of Doha—Souq Waqif—we prepared for the first match of our three-match series against the Hoya Cricket Club at GU-Q with a practice session at the training facility. This was our first chance to meet our counterparts on the GU-Q cricket team, and we were struck by the level of kindness, hospitality, and excitement that the team presented. After the practice, they quickly organized for both teams to attend an impromptu welcome dinner at a local Pakistani restaurant, where we easily bonded with our new friends over chat about cricket, Georgetown, and our different cultures, religions, and homelands. Like our cricket team, which comprised Americans, Britons, Indians, Pakistanis, and Australians from 10 different cities across the world, the GU-Q team was equally, if not more, diverse. To sit around a shared dinner table as friends, and talk with, laugh with, and learn from each other was a truly special experience. This hospitality was a theme of our experience across the week—every time we were on campus, where we were greeted, looked after, and entertained; every time we had dinner, whether with students, staff, or alumni; and every time we played cricket. 

A panoramic view of the team enjoying a tour of Doha

The cricketing segment started on the second day. After an interesting tour of Doha’s education city, we set out to the cricket field for the first time. In the first match in the Qatari heat, we batted second and were able to draw out an impressive win in the last few balls of the game, with key innings from Esmond Martin, Vish Wadhwa, and Rahil Shaikh. Unfortunately, the rest of the cricket did not go our way—in the second match on the following day, the team from Doha came back with a vengeance despite admirable performances from Aditya Jain and Sresth Viswanathan, bringing the series to 1-1. The third and final deciding match was a close-run affair, with the GU-Q team being limited to a low score. Unfortunately, we could not chase it down however, and to the victors from Doha went the spoils in the shape of a shiny new trophy to cement the new inter-campus tournament. The most delightful part of the cricket, however, was the manner in which it was played—with respect, fairness, integrity, and an appreciation of our diversity. The attitudes of both teams reflected both the values of cricket and the spirit of Georgetown, and the matches were a great representation of Georgetown and the game of cricket. 

The whole week was full of amazing activities and every day was action-packed. Highlights included a tour of the Qatar Cricket Federation, a meeting with a GU-Q alum who worked on the World Cup bid, a tour of a World Cup stadium, and numerous impactful talks, meetings, and museum tours.

The week was an incredibly moving experience for the team, and we would like to thank our friends and supporters in the Office of Mission & Ministry for all their help, particularly Fr. Mark Bosco, SJ, Vice President for Mission & Ministry, and Dr. John Crowley-Buck, Special Assistant to the Vice President of Mission & Ministry without whom this trip would never have happened. Equally, we are deeply appreciative of our friends in Doha who made this happen and looked after us so well whilst we were there, including Dr. Brendan Hill, Jibin Koshy, Dr. John Wright, and Uday Rosario.