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Visit and penalty contest

Doha schoolkids thrilled as stars drop in

A number of international universities operate branches here. There are academies, sports facilities and accommodation for pupils and students, a variety of research institutes and Congress Centres, and even a state-of-the-art stud farm. An 80,000-capacity stadium will be built here for the World Cup, nestling alongside seven-star hotels and a golf course. However, the stars of the show at the huge 14 km² Qatar Foundation site on Wednesday came from Bayern.

Arjen Robben and Toni Kroos were invited by the foundation to pay an afternoon visit to Education City. After being introduced to the foundation and the impressive facility, the FCB pair entered their names in the visitors’ book. And then the volume went up: Robben and Kroos received a frenetic reception from 200 pupils aged between six and 16 who were gathered in a nearby sports hall.

“We’re delighted to be here, finding out about your wonderful facility,” Robben told the audience, “you have fantastic opportunities here.” Kroos and the Dutchman signed a bag of footballs and chipped them into the stands where the kids stretched out their hands and tried to catch one of the “trophies”. After photos and autograph signing, the players returned to the team hotel in good time for the afternoon training session.

Busy Manuel

After the squad workout, some 50 kids then put Manuel Neuer through his paces. Volkswagen handed them the chance to take seven-metre penalties against the freshly-crowned best goalkeeper in the world. A handful of the kids even managed to put the ball past the Bayern and Germany goalkeeper, before the player took his leave of the smiling youngsters.