Thirty-two custom-made public benches called “Friendship Benches” – one for each nation competing in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ – are being built for installation in prominent Doha locations, including the precincts of tournament stadiums.
These benches are being built to promote the critical importance of mental health, and the role that football and sport more broadly can play to promote mental well-being, as announced by the Ministry of Public Health on 10 October 2022.
In conjunction with World Mental Health Day, a selection of the first benches was presented at 974 Stadium, in Doha. The bench initiative was symbolically inaugurated with the preview of the England bench at Qatar Foundation’s global health event, the World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) in the lead-up to a larger reveal of the benches on World Mental Health Day.
The initiative is part of the Sport for Health partnership, led by the World Health Organization and Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health (MOPH). Its goal is to demonstrate the importance of mental health and offer advice on ways to promote mental well-being, including through the importance of physical activity and sports.
English athlete Sir Mo Farah, whose ten Olympic and World Championship gold medals make him the most successful male track distance runner ever, inaugurated the England bench, where he was joined by Her Excellency Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al Thani, Vice Chairperson and CEO of Qatar Foundation, for a conversation about sport and mental health – a symbolic recognition of the initiative.
Speaking about Sir Mo Farah, H.E. Sheikha Hind said:
“Meeting Sir Mo and hearing the compelling story of how he left Mogadishu for London as a young boy and the mental health challenges he faced highlighted the importance of sitting down and talking about our mental health. I’m proud that Qatar Foundation’s global health initiative is among those helping shine a spotlight on mental health in such an innovative and practical way.”
The project is part of the Sport for Health partnership, led by the World Health Organisation and Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health (MoPH). The benches initiative is supported by FIFA, the SC, WISH, the Friendship Benches NGO and the WHO Universal Health Coverage Partnership.
The final locations of each of the 32 benches will be announced shortly. As per the ministry, once installed, information will be shared on how residents of Qatar and visitors will be able to visit their national benches, and others, in a show of support for mental and physical health promotion.
Source: Ministry of Public Health, Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy
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