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AL GHARAFA Sports Club was established on 6 June 1979. They were originally known as Al-Ittihad. The club was officially renamed to its current form in 2004 to better represent its rapidly-expanding district of Al Gharafa.
The idea of creating the new club sparked from a group of young Qataris in 1978 - most notably Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Al-Thani, Sheikh Mohammad Bin Jassim Al-Thani and Saad Mohammad Al-Rumaihi.
Known as The Cheetahs, Gharafa were formed with the intent of creating sports facilities for the region's youngsters. It did not occur to the leaders the club would become as tremendously successful as it is today.
The original name of "Al-Ittihad" translates to "United" and was chosen in the spirit of the brotherhood and solidarity that typified the club and its leaders.
As Al-Gharafa was established relatively late compared to other Qatari clubs at the time, it began its journey in the Second Division. They dominated the league and won the title on their debut season in 1980. They joined the Qatar Stars League at the end of season 1987/88 season and won their first QSL title in 1992, breaking the 16-year deadlock between the three dominant Qatari clubs Al-Arabi, Al Sadd, and Al-Rayyan.
The club were runners-up in 1994 to Al-Arabi, before winning the Emir Cup four-times-in-a- row from 1995 til 1998. In the last few years they have welcomed illustrious players such as Juninho, Marcel Desailly, Younis Mahmoud and Sebastian Soria. Silverware has not been difficult for Al Gharafa to come by throughout their history.
Since 1980 The Cheetahs have won an incredible 21 trophies. They have been crowned league winners seven times, second division champions three times, Qatari Stars Cup winners three times and Heir Apparent Cup winners three times. The tournament they seem to have the greatest bond with, however, is the Emir Cup. They have lifted the trophy a staggering seven times. Gharafa were crowned victors in 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2009 and 2012. Despite their success in the cups, Gharafa will have felt the pain of Al Sadd and Lekhwiya coming to prominence in the last few years. They have not tasted victory in the league since 2010 - something they will be desperate to put right as soon as possible. One way they hope to achieve this is by virtue of their excellent youth development system.
While Gharafa are not adverse to attracting stellar players such as Djibril Cisse, Juninho and Sonny Anderson, they are also determined to blaze a trail with a conveyor belt of home-grown talent. Widely recognized for having the largest youth development program in the country, Gharafa recruit youth players for every age bracket, consistently producing national team players from its academy. They regularly visit local schools, as well as hold school tournaments, and offer students trials. Currently there are approximately 350 players in the clubs youth ranks, with 100 players in its academy, and 240 players in grass roots. It's a formula they hope will continue to add to the success experienced in the past
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