Cahill, 40, becomes the latest name to join the SC family as part of the ambassador programme that includes Xavi, Samuel Eto’o, Cafu plus a number of other local and regional football legends.
Tim Cahill (right) with FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 LLC CEO Nasser al-Khater
The programme seeks to work with some of the game’s most high-profile names to promote and deliver the SC’s numerous legacy projects, and help use the opportunities provided by Qatar 2022 to create a lasting positive social change across the region and around the globe.
Cahill, a regular visitor to Qatar over the past 12 years, has developed a close affinity with the country and will work to promote various activities and legacy programmes, including Generation Amazing, Josoor Institute and Workers’ Welfare, among others. He will also work with Qatar’s local communities to ensure the legacy of the FIFA World Cup 2022 is both long-lasting and far-reaching.
Speaking at his announcement ceremony, which took place at a Generation Amazing activation with local school children, Cahill spoke of his delight at joining the ambassador programme.
“I think joining the SC family was a natural progression for me,” he said. “I’ve been traveling to Qatar since 2008, so have developed a close relationship [with the country] over the years, so to be part of it, and to share the story of Qatar 2022 is pretty special.”
He continued: “I had the privilege to actually be in Switzerland at the time Qatar won the [rights to host the] World Cup. I remember afterwards talking about Qatar’s presentation; just seeing the elements of the stadiums being built visually, and then the way they were all getting lifted off and transferred to different countries. All this stuff was mind-blowing. They took the technology to a different level – everyone in that room was really impressed. To be sitting here today to see that concept in action; the stadiums, the air conditioning; it’s incredible.”
Cahill, an AFC Asian Cup winner in 2015, holds numerous accolades at international level. Besides being one of the elite group of players to have featured at four separate FIFA World Cups (2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018), he was also the first Australian man to score at the finals, and with 50 goals in 108 appearances, he is his country’s record goal scorer.
After a glittering 21-year playing career, which included stints in England, the US, China, Australia and India, he hung up his boots in March 2019. Although that means he will be unable to take to the field at Qatar 2022, he’s thrilled to be part of the tournament in a different capacity and looking forward to playing a role in telling Qatar’s story to the world.
“It’s the biggest tournament ever to come to the Middle East,” he explained. “To hold this tournament and to share it with the world – and to be in a place where it’s never been done before – that’s what football does. Football is giving back to this region, but at the same time sharing its culture, values and lifestyle.”
A key part of Cahill’s role with the SC will be to work closely with Generation Amazing – the SC’s flagship corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme. It seeks to deliver positive social change through innovative football for development coaching sessions – locally, regionally and internationally.
The far-reaching positive social, economic and cultural impact – across all ages and echelons of society – that football can have is a subject close to Cahill’s heart. Throughout his playing career and into retirement, he has continuously sought to broaden his horizons away from the pitch.
He is a passionate advocate and supporter of the grassroots game. Through a number of initiatives, including the ‘Tim Cahill Coaching Clinics’, the ‘Tim Cahill All-Star Academy’ and his ‘Schools Program’ he has already reached over 10,000 children by providing free football training, as well as skills and coordination training that can be applied to other sports and everyday life.
He is also a successful author, with his ‘Tiny Timmy’ children’s book series now in its tenth iteration.
Philanthropy away from the pitch has also, and continues to be, a major part of his life. He is an ambassador for UNICEF and for Heartbeat of Football – a charity that raises awareness of heart health among footballers and raises funds to provide defibrillators for grassroots football venues.
In addition to that, he is also an ambassador for John Moriarty Football – a foundation that funds football programmes for indigenous Australians in remote communities. Given his already sizeable interest in using the power of football to give back, the SC’s portfolio of legacy programmes associated with Qatar 2022 is an area of work he cannot wait to get involved with.
“With Qatar there are so many opportunities with the legacy programmes of the Supreme Committee. You have the Josoor Institute, the masterclasses, mentorship. I listen to those opportunities.
“You can talk about kids, you can talk about adults, workers’ welfare – you can talk about really important programmes that can make a change and help people understand what an ambassador’s role is and the impact we can have with our profile.
“To see the kids happy is one element, but when you can change their lives through reading, through decisions; or when you can change adults’ lives through mentorship or decision making by sharing your life skills and what you’ve learnt through your 20-year career; my passion definitely shines through in this element, just as much as the football element.”
Commenting on the announcement, SC Secretary General HE Hassan al-Thawadi, said: “We are delighted to welcome Tim Cahill to our ever expanding family of renowned ambassadors. Tim’s credentials as a player are indisputable. To have appeared at four separate World Cups puts him in an elite group – one which Xavi, Eto’o and Cafu are also part of. This makes him, and them, a perfect fit for our SC family.
“As with each of our other ambassadors, Tim also has a deep understanding of what the tournament can bring to a country and to a region – not just for the 28 days of football, but for the years and decades afterwards. His acumen and enthusiasm off the pitch are just as impressive as his ability on it; and I look forward to working with him closely over the coming years.”