The tree of dreams
Close to a hundred years after Uruguay hosted the first FIFA World Cup in 1930, the South American nations have united in their bid to bring the Greatest Show on Earth back to its birthplace to mark the centenary edition.
Uruguay and Argentina, the finalists of that inaugural edition, jointly presented the bid to co-host the quadrennial event in 2017, the case promoted by Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez among many football stars. And the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) is firmly behind that bid, ensuring all it can to promote the bid.
Part of the promotion is the CONMEBOL – Tree of Dreams, located at Sikkat Al Wadi in Msheireb Downtown Doha, which is drawing crowds in droves from the South American nations and the rest of the world.
Fans can take a tour through how South American football evolved throughout the years, and play interactive games that will put their football knowledge and skill to the test.
Among many visitors to the exhibition on Friday afternoon were Mahmoud and his son Hussain, from Morocco. Hussain, an aspiring footballer and a self-confessed Cristiano Ronaldo fan, was looking forward to seeing his country take on Ronaldo's Portugal on Saturday. But before that he was happy to immerse himself in the history of South American football.
"The museum and the galleries are amazing. Since I'm a footballer myself, seeing these antique items and replica trophies and the statues of Maradona and Pele will surely motivate me to become a good footballer one day," said the youngster.
The centrepiece of the exhibition is a tree, described as the energy of South America. "Feel the energy of the continent pulsing through the tree, feeding the passion and instinct of South American football's past, present and future," says the inscription on the tree – 6.1 metres in height and engraved with member associations, great names of the sport in South America.
The exhibition is divided into three segments: The Best Players, Home of the Icons and Best Tournaments.
The legends of South American football are displayed in the Best Players gallery. Fans can select "The dream team," a perfect squad featuring their favourite players on interactive displays. It also features three different games: Golazo Metre to test visitors' football kicking skills, Fastest Ginga to test the agility, and Conmebol corner to test one's sharpshooting skills.
Home of the icons is where the fans can connect with two of South America's greatest sons – Maradona and Pele, life-size sculptures of both with opportunities for visitors to take photos. It also features historical items from the very first Word Cup: The Jules Rimet Trophy, Tiento Football, both from Uruguay World Cup 1930 and Obdullo Varela's ankle boots, Brazil World Cup 1950.
Hasnain, a migrant worker from the Indian state of Kerala, was delighted to be at the exhibition on the holiday. Flanked by two of his colleagues, Arshad was taking photos with the two legends of football.
"We will never get to see these football legends in our lives, but coming here taking photos with their sculptures makes me feel as if I'm with them," Arshad said.