Student Leaders Kick Off World Cup Watch Parties
Current students gathered to watch the Iran-U.S. game during the 2022 World Cup on November 29. Photo by Alyssa Karlin, ’23 Art, Photography.
An array of students at San José State University gathered to watch the historic 2022 FIFA World Cup in the Student Union this week, taking advantage of the unique circumstance of this being the first time the event is being held in the fall to avoid host country Qatar’s extreme summer temperatures. The watch parties were organized by current students, Mohammad Fadzrill Aliff Bin Fadzhairi, ’22 Engineering Technology, Manufacturing Systems, and Jeet Parekh, ’23 Data Analytics, who serve as global leaders with SJSU’s International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS). The ISSS supports international students from their first days at SJSU all the way through graduation.
As global leaders, they plan events to help SJSU’s international students build community and get to know one another. As huge fans of soccer, organizing the watch parties of the most widely watched and followed sporting event in the world — over 3.5 billion people watched Russia’s World Cup in 2018 — was a natural fit for them.
“We created the watch parties to have a space for those who might be far away from their friends and family [who would typically watch together] and unite with people worldwide through the sport, while enjoying the great moments the World Cup brings,” said Fadzhairi.
“Most people will admit that watching matches with others is much better than doing it alone,” added Parekh.
Behind the scenes, there was a lot of planning required to obtain the space to watch the games, creating activities and games people can enjoy while they attend, as well as for marketing the events. Parekh designed the flier for marketing the events himself. They also posted stories on social media to engage students and tracked the winning teams on a leaderboard.
Fadzhairi and Parekh believe this year’s World Cup, the first in the tournament’s 92-year history to be held in the Middle East and mired in controversy, is especially fascinating because there is a possibility top professional soccer players Lionel Messi (Argentina) and Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) will be playing their last World Cup, while many young, emerging talents are competing on the world stage for the first time. This knowledge factored into Fadzhairi and Parekh’s decision about which games to highlight, as well as game days and times and availability of rooms on campus.
“I have facilitated several events for ISSS, such as Global Leader Chats, where we bring specific topics to help new international students quickly adapt to SJSU and American education culture,” said Fadzhairi. “Another event to highlight is our Global Spartan Meetup, where we bring students together to attend SJSU events. It’s a social event, an excellent opportunity to create connections, and a space for students who don’t want to attend events alone.”
Born and raised in Malaysia, Fadzhairi came to California to continue his higher education. He’s always been passionate about bringing international students together and ensuring they have the best experience while studying in the U.S. The global leader position allowed him to bring some of his own ideas to life and be involved with the SJSU international student community.
Also a member of SJSU’s Student Union Board of Directors, Parekh has taken part in organizing other events on campus with different clubs and departments, which has helped him in planning events for the international student community.
“I was really excited about the opportunity [to be a global leader],” he said. “The role has helped develop my awareness of cultural diversity and strategic thinking through working with a large team.”
Parekh is currently in his second semester of his master’s in data analytics program. Originally from India, he decided to attend SJSU because of its diverse community, high-quality education, access to cutting-edge research facilities and hands-on experiences with industry in the heart of Silicon Valley.
The next World Cup will be held in 2026 and jointly hosted by Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. By then, Fadzhairi and Perekh will very likely be building their careers in the Bay Area. Fadzhairi hopes to become a “leader in battery and robotics technology,” and Perekh is looking for a role that offers a creative and innovative work environment where he can grow his knowledge in business operations.