Doha, 9 May 2018. Aspire Academy on Tuesday evening organised its annual Scholarship Ceremony to welcome new joiners enrolling at the Academy for the 2018/2019 season. With every year, the number Aspire Academy enrolments continues to increase, with this year seeing more than 90 students joining, compared with 84 last year. Their enrolment follows a rigorous scouting process by Aspire Academy’s Talent Identification Department, which tests the physical capabilities and endurance of young boys from local schools across three stages.
Newly enrolled students and their parents were invited to attend the Scholarship Ceremony to learn about the Academy’s methodology, training facilities and programmes and departments. They were welcomed by Aspire Academy’s senior officials, coaches, councillors, and medical experts. These included: Ali Salem Afifa, Deputy Director General; Edorta Murua, Football Technical Director; Markus Egger, Director of Sport and Strategy; Dr. Antonio Tramullas, Medical Director of the Aspire Medicine Centre; Professor Valter Di Salvo, Director of Football Performance & Science; Tim Cable, Director of Football Science; and Abdulaziz Al Jedaia, Manager of Student Affairs Services.
In his welcoming remarks, Ali Salem Afifa, Deputy Director General, said: “These new joiners include some of Qatar’s most promising athletic talent, as identified by our scouting process. As you know, the Academy has produced some of Qatar’s most prominent athletes, including Olympic Champion Mutaz Barshim and Squash player Abdullah Al Tamimi, alongside elite footballers making their mark on the world of football, locally and internationally. Yet Aspire Academy graduates are not only athletes, but also future leaders in medicine, engineering, social sciences and beyond. This is all part of Aspire Academy’s role to support the Qatar National Vision 2030 and its objectives.”
Focusing on the academic aspect, Abdulaziz AlJedaia, Manager of Student Affairs Services, said: “Aspire Academy is recognised by the Council of International Schools (CIS) and it follows the Qatari curriculum set by the Ministry of Education and Higher Education. The Academy is also equipped with some of the best dormitory facilities in the world.”
Addressing the young boys and their parents, Markus Egger, Director of Sport and Strategy, added: “11 of our students are scheduled to represent Qatar at the IAAF World U20 championships in Finland in a few weeks. Some of them were sitting in this room only a few years ago. Qatar’s next champion could be here with us now. We have a very powerful team of experts, working together to benefit student-athletes. But this is a very challenging journey. To become the next elite athlete is a special thing but it doesn’t come for free - it requires a lot of work and dedication, as well as a commitment to excellence from everyone involved. Most importantly, boys need to invest in their development and stick to healthy lifestyle habits, like getting proper sleep and eating well.”
Edorta Murua, Football Technical Director, said: “As coaches, we need to learn how to reach the players, so the learning process is a two-way street. Some of our student-athletes not only engage in the development process, but also sometimes even lead discussions. By making the student-athletes part of their own learning process in this way, we seek to increase their independence and provide a learning environment that lets them flourish.”
Dr. Antonio Tramullas, Medical Director of the Aspire Medicine Centre and head of a multidisciplinary team of 22 Aspetar staff, concluded: “Boys aren’t allowed to begin training until they have completed their annual screening process, which helps us decide what training schedule to put them on. Working closely with the science department to ensure injured student-athletes are well-cared for, these take place in the summer and include checks on their historical medical conditions and potential areas of weakness.”
He added: “Without proper sleep and healthy eating, it’s impossible to be an elite athlete. The families, particularly parents, play a huge role in supporting us with this. It’s also important for the parents to inform us of any illnesses their children have so we can treat them and prevent contagion.”
During the Ceremony, several Aspire Academy graduates and current student-athletes took part in a panel discussion to share their experiences at the Academy. Panellists included squash player Abdullah Al Tamimi, currently ranked 33rd in the world; Table tennis player German Shemet; and current student-athlete specialising in athletics, Saleh Bashraheel.
Abdullah Al Tamimi, said: “If it wasn’t for Aspire, I wouldn’t be where I am today, speaking on this panel. We spent a lot of time here, going on many training camps and competitions. The coaches, academic councillors and teachers were always supportive, and have taught us valuable life skills that we still carry with us.”
German Shemet, currently a bachelor student in Stenden Qatar, added: “Aspire has taught me how to manage my time and how to maintain a good balance between sports and education.”
Saleh Barsharaheel, concluded: “Aspire provided us with so many things: health, sports, education, and nutrition. You rarely see that in other schools and we know we are lucky to receive such treatment.”
Aspire Academy offers a vibrant educational environment and intercultural experience to develop student-athletes’ academic and sporting potential. Through personalised learning and training using modern technology, the Academy also develops responsible learners and inspires every student-athlete to make valuable contributions to the global community.
Aspire Academy student-athletes are developed through a comprehensive athlete portfolio management process, whereby coaches, educators, support staff, service providers and management personnel actively cooperate to create an integrated Long Term Athlete Development programme based on specific and measurable performance outcomes. Progressive development, rigorous adherence to duty-of-care and a fun and interactive learning environment are all core to these efforts.