In a year that has tested the limits of so many people’s endurance, Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q) student athlete Rabeea Al Mulla is proving that with the right mindset, anything is possible. The International Economics senior is balancing the demands of university life at the Qatar Foundation partner university with the athletic goals of his role as a football player with the Qatar Sports Club (Qatar SC), and excelling at both.
Rabeea, a Qatari national, spent his early years playing football with friends. That experience gave him the instincts and the foundational skills he needed to train and try out for Qatar SC, a first division league team, where he’s played for the last five years at the club’s 15,000 capacity Suheim Bin Hamad Stadium located near the Corniche. After initially halting practices when the pandemic hit, the sports club is now making headlines in the Qatar Stars League. “This year is amazing. We have new management, the return of a previous club owner, even new pro players,” he said.
That success has come with a lot of hard work, and Rabeea keeps a tight schedule of early morning training sessions before classes start, and ends his day with even more training. “It’s six days a week of hard work on the pitch, but my professors have been really supportive and worked with my schedule to ensure that I can fulfill all of my classroom goals too.”
That classroom experience is laying the groundwork for future hopes of pursuing a career in Qatar’s financial sector. As a high school student, he also considered accepting enrollment in a university in California, USA, but attending GU-Q meant he wouldn’t have to give up football. “Leaving home, I knew it would be less likely that I would still play football, and football is a part of my life now. At GU-Q, I thought I could balance both, and the majors and curriculum I found here suited me.”
That curriculum included an internship where he researched opportunities for foreign direct investment in Qatar, the outcome of a collaborative educational partnership between GU-Q and the US-Qatar Business Council (USQBC). Rabeea also brings football into his academics when he can. His senior thesis research project emerged from the growing notion in football culture about overspending. “I’m trying to find out if a professional player’s value is reflected on the pitch. Clubs pay big money for big names, but does that pay off?”
But no matter where his professional career takes him, Rabeea will always be at home in a sport where players from different social, economic, and national backgrounds are united as a team. “Football brings so many different people together. On the pitch, the only difference between players is ability. All other differences melt away.”