Writing on the wall: A year of sport began with the Arabian Gulf Cup in Oman [Paul Rhys]

Al Jazeera's sports correspondents travel the globe to uncover exclusive stories from the fringes of the sporting world and major tournaments alike.

Click on the pictures or text links to see 10 features that hit our screens in the past year.

Ghana's rugby dreams

Having hosted the Africa Cup of Nations in 2008 and with players like Chelsea's Michael Essien gracing the world stage, Ghana is a country geared up for football.

But thanks to the efforts of passionate coach Musu Salem, children are falling for a new sport - Rugby Union.

With rocky, dusty pitches a far cry from the lush practice fields of England or South Africa, Carrie Brown reports on efforts to nurture Ghanaian talent in this elite contact sport.

Gulf Cup in Oman

With Arabian Gulf countries in the hunt for World Cup places at the start of the year this was a chance to showcase the best this part of the Middle East had to offer on the football pitch.

Arabian Gulf Cup

Asian Cup winners Iraq lined up against World Cup regulars Saudi Arabia in Muscat, with Omani home fans packing the stands hours before each kickoff to cheer on their favourites. 

Fifa president Sepp Blatter hinted that the tournament could become an official part of the world governing body's calendar as the competition was lit up by some stunning goals - and some even more stunning confrontations between the teams' coaches.

Andy Richardson, Al Jazeera's sports correspondent for the Middle East, was in Muscat in January.

Winter countdown

With Vancouver hosting the Winter Olympics in February 2010, Brendan Connor paid a visit to Canada a year ahead to see if preparations were on schedule.

Organisers, athletes and International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge answered questions on finance, legacy and facilities - with the verdict being 'all systems go'.

You can follow the Games yourself when Al Jazeera's Joanna Gasiorowska covers the tournament in the new year.

Home from home

Playing in exile

The deadly attack on Sri Lanka's team bus on the morning of a Test match in Lahore in March meant Pakistan's cricketers faced exile from playing matches in their own country.

While of little comfort to fans at home, brand new grounds in the United Arab Emirates did at least mean the players could host games abroad.

Rahul Pathak was on hand as a huge immigrant Pakistani population in Abu Dhabi and Dubai welcomed their heroes.

A true football hero

It does not take much for a sportsman to be termed a hero.

Those who score goals or take wickets or win trophies are heroes of sorts, but their status pales into insignificance when compared with the story of Luis Fernando Montoya.

Brendan Connor visited the Colombian football coach at home, where he remains paralysed for life after being shot in a robbery, and hears his story of fortitude, selflessness and generosity.

Cricket in Nepal
Kathmandu cricket

Andy Richardson visits Kathmandu, where Test match atmospheres are creating a buzz in an under-17 cricket tournament.

Brought into the country by royalty returning from studies in India in the 1920s, the game only took off among the ordinary people when the 1996 World Cup was beamed in on cable TV.

Nepal's junior teams are already a force in Asia, bringing hope that as seniors they can go on to qualify for a World Cup.

Dutch spring baseball surprise

The World Baseball Classic (WBC) sees teams from around the world take on the nation so sure of its baseball ability that it claims even its domestic sides as world champions - the US.

Few Americans would agree that WBC 2009 winners Japan are the best on the planet, despite their big presence in Major League Baseball.

But the upsets in this year's tournament may make some sit up and take notice, not least of all the Netherlands who twice beat the Dominican Republic to qualify from the first round.

Breathing space not included

With Grand Prix racing coming to Abu Dhabi for the first time, it was the perfect opportunity for Al Jazeera to get strapped into a Formula One car for a turn round the Yas Marina circuit.

F1 test drive

Featuring the longest and fastest straight in the sport, the experience hit home that braking at 300kph was no simple case of mirror-signal-manoeuvre.

Andy Richardson left the cockpit with a new-found respect for the sport's drivers.

Asian qualifiers

North Korea and Iran were off the news pages for a change as they went head-to-head in a World Cup qualifier in Pyongyang on the day that South Korea qualified for the 2010 finals.

In Doha, two sides from opposite ends of Asia met as Qatar went close to preventing Australia qualifying for their second successive tournament.

Wayne Hay and Rahul Pathak were at the matches.

Golf hit by money worries

The top players may be millionaires or even billionaires but golf is going through worrying times as sponsors pull out of events.

Downward swing

Joanna Gasiorowska went to the Dubai World Championship, where winner Lee Westwood scooped a cool $2.75mn.

Despite the riches on offer, organisers faced a race against time to get enough funding for the event to go ahead.

With world number one, Tiger Woods, taking a break from the game, 2010 could prove an even tougher challenge for golf.

Source: Al Jazeera