A 22 year old Saudi American hybrid and fitness fanatic, Bandar Khattab began to spread the sport of American Football in Jeddah from 2006. Currently studying marketing in Memphis university his love of sports lead him to join the American football team on campus, hence inspiring him to bring his beloved sport back to his hometown and start his very own team. Bandar talks to us about some of the things that keep him motivated on his journey to physical and mental success.
Q: As we understand sports is a huge part of your life, when and how did you become interested in sports?
A: As long as I can remember I’ve always loved sports. I’ve had many different phases growing up including a love for soccer and basketball, but from 6th grade I fell in love with American football and it quickly became my passion, until this day. I’ve always loved being active and have had an attraction to competitive sports as they give me that drive to be the best I can be.
Q: We all have something or someone that drives us, who or what is your biggest motivator?
A: I have more than one motivator in my life. First and foremost is my religion, I’ve always wanted to represent my religion to the highest level and strongly believe in God. Secondly, my family motivates me, especially my younger brothers and teammates. I consider my teammates as my brothers, so I want to make them all proud and set a good example. Thirdly, for myself, people used to tell me that I’m short and small, it built a big chip on my shoulder and I wanted to prove all of those people wrong.
Q: You mentioned that your family is one of your biggest motivators so I’m sure living apart from them is difficult and you have those days where you feel a little blue, what keeps you on track when you start to slip?
A: I try to keep a positive attitude in every situation, whenever I get dragged down about being away from my family I say to myself that it will pay off and the strive for greatness always requires sacrifice. My motto is: Endure now to enjoy later.
Q: Sports is all about winning and losing, how do you deal with losing?
A: As an athlete trying to become the best I can be winning is definitely the main objective in any sport and nobody likes to lose, but losing is bound to happen. As I said earlier, I try to think positive and take the best from a situation. You shouldn’t dwell on a loss as it will consume you, bother you and keep you from improving yourself. You have to accept and learn from it so the same thing won’t happen again. Learn from it and move on.
Q: Who is your favourite sports figure and how did you become fascinated with them?
A: I actually have two right now. One is a football player Eric Weddle, who plays for the San Diego chargers, my favourite team. I admire him because he’s not the biggest or strongest, which I can relate to, but since he’s been with the team he’s worked hard and with his perseverance he’s became captain of defence. So I look up to him for his inner strength and persistence and I even wear the same number as him on my football jersey. The other is an MMA fighter in UFC his name is George st Pierre he’s from Canada. He’s been the welterweight champion since 2008 and he’s defended 12 title shots from people trying to get the belt from him – that’s the second highest score recorded in history! I not only admire him for his wins though, he carries himself with nobility and honour. He lives like a true martial artist by being humble, whenever anybody tries to taunt him before a fight, he never answers back no matter what they say to him. He always says “just wait until fight day” and when fight day comes he channels all his comebacks into his punches and fighting.
Q: What is your definition of happiness?
A: My idea of happiness is very simple. It’s doing what you love to do and surrounding yourself with positive people who support you in what you do.
Q: One thing that’s really hard for me to do is keep a good balance between work and socialising, how do you manage to balance sports with studying?
A: It all comes down to organising and prioritising your time. Once I’m done with classes that’s when I usually get my studying and homework done so I can work while the information is still fresh in my mind. That way I won’t have to worry about it after workouts or practice when I’m drained and tired.
Q: We would love to know how you turned a mere dream of starting an American football team into reality and how you gathered team members.
A: For me it started out as a hobby, but once I put my mind to it I knew it could be great. The first American football team in Saudi? Wow! I loved the idea of being involved in something new. Me and a few close friends said why not? I mean, it only takes one man to change the course of history and we deeply believed in our vision. Continuous belief and relentless work are what kept our dream alive. We’ve got people from everywhere, from our school, classmates, we advertise and hold summer camps to attract members and it just spreads by word of mouth.
Q: What are your future goals and plans?
A: My future goals are to pursue my dreams with full force, and to overcome any obstacle that I face. And if I don’t make it, I want to make sure that I have no regrets. I truly believe in God’s decisions and trust them and I know if I try my best and with full effort, then that will be rewarded in its own way. Only then will I hang my cleats and helmet.
Q: What are some tips you can give to our readers about staying motivated?
A: If you have a vision go after it with full force and don’t let people cloud your path because obstacles are what we’ll see if we take our eyes off the prize. Also, be patient. The seed of your hard work will blossom when the time is right.