KUCHING: Sarawak will be hosting the AFC Solidarity Cup, an inaugural international football tournament, next month for seven footballing nations.
Organised by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) from Nov 2 to 15, the tournament sees countries like Brunei, Timor Leste, Laos, Macau, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Mongolia compete against each other for top honours.
According to Assistant Minister of Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, Kuching was selected as host because the city has two international-class stadiums - the Stadium Negeri and Stadium Sarawak.
Matches will be played in the two stadiums and Stadium Sarawak will be used as venue for the final match of the tournament.
Apart from that, Kuching also has a strong football following among its populace, a strong factor why the city was chosen as host.
"Sarawakians should be proud for the recognition by the Asian body (AFC).
"I hope Sarawakians would continue to be passionate about football," he added during a press conference held at the Baitulmakmur Building yesterday.
He hopes the tournament will have some impact on the state's tourism industry, in socio-economics, exchange of knowledge and so forth, Sarawak being a very unique place in the country, which offers diverse tribal cultures, tourism sports and a multi-cultural community living in racial and religious harmony.
Karim hoped Sarawakians will support the international event by attending matches.
"It would be nice to have our venues full during international events held in the state.
If an international event has the support from the locals, I believe more internationals will be hosted by Sarawak in future," he said.
Also present during the press conference were Sarawak Sports Corporation chief executive officer Dr Ong Kong Swee, Football Associaion of Sarawak (FAS) vice president Razali Dolhand and other officials.