QATAR and football - you just can’t keep the two out of the news.
But here in Sheffield when Qatar and football came together it had nothing to do with World Cup bids, FIFA skulduggery or elections and Sepp Blatter.
Instead this story unfolded when 10 firefighters from Qatar spent three months with South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service as part of a special fact-finding visit to Great Britain.
During their stay the lads from Qatar challenged their South Yorkshire counterparts to a game of football.
And, despite what you may think about the skill levels of the game in Qatar, the visiting team ran out easy winners - despite the fact they even played in bare feet.
South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service head of training, Darren Staniland, was one of those who played.
“We normally play on Wednesdays to keep fit,” he said.
“And when the lads from Qatar found out about our weekly game they challenged us to a match - and we thought, ‘Bring it on’.
“As they only had 10 men I was asked to play for their team - and I’m glad I did.
“When they ran out without boots or socks I did start to wonder, but in fact they were really good!”
The match was played at Woodhouse Junior School on the Flockton estate and the Qatar team won 7-5.
And the watching school kids who hung around to see the game were so impressed they even asked if the Qatar team were international professionals.
During their stay the group was based at South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service’s training centre in Handsworth, which houses one of the world’s most advanced firefighter training facilities.
The £2 million Realistic Fire Training Building, which the Qatar crews used for training exercises, contains true-to-life scenarios for firefighters to practise incidents including working at height and evacuation procedures.
The visitors also attended a range of real incidents across the county to observe how crews operate at the scene of blazes, road traffic collisions, and rescues.
Jon Parkes, a training centre instructor, said: “It is testament to our reputation and the excellent training facilities we have in South Yorkshire that the Qatar firefighters chose to visit us.
“We were delighted to welcome them here, and I am sure the visit will be a huge benefit to our own crews as well as our visitors from Qatar.”
Qatar firefighter Mohammed Ali Nr Al-Suwaidi said: “As soon as we arrived here we were warmly welcomed by everyone at the training centre.
“We were very much looking forward to learning from the experienced instructors. Everything we have done so far has been a great success and I would recommend the experience for others”.