09 Sep 2020

Doha, 8 September 2020. Three months ago, in June, Aspire Academy resumed training for select student-athletes and graduates in small numbers under strict adherence to health and safety procedures and precautions approved and developed by the Aspire Crisis Management Team.  The applied measures and regulations used at Aspire are in alignment with national directives and reference to the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) and World Health Organisation (WHO) safety guidelines. Fast forward to September 2020 the training has upscaled and the numbers of student-athletes participating in practice sessions has increased but staying well within stipulated numbers that follow social distancing regulations.

Aspire Academy, just like has been the case from the earliest return to premises since the pandemic broke, is taking all necessary precautions in order to ensure safety of everyone, students, coaches and all employees. Access for everyone entering the premises and facilities is only allowed after showing green code on individual “Ehteraz app” on mobile phones as well as passing the temperature test. The current arrangement with regards to the Aspire Academy is that from the 6th of September through to 30th of September, student-athletes are studying online from home and only turning up at the Academy for resumed sports training.

Following on from this temporary scenario, all sport codes from football to athletics, squash, table-tennis and fencing are back in training and using both the Aspire Dome and the outdoor fields. Aspire Academy senior athletics coach, Lee Christopher believes everyone is gradually adjusting to the new reality and finding ways to get back to as near normal as before the pandemic. “At present we are doing more than when we resumed training back in June and all this, well within health and safety observations and this is pleasing progress for everyone. We have with us new and upcoming student-athletes on the sprints programme and we are looking forward to working with them. This time also marks the start of a new era for our last group of successful student athletes who graduated last June. 2018 Youth Olympic 110m hurdles gold winner, Owaab Barrow has started university studies at renowned UK, Loughborough University. Loughborough is one of the world’s leading universities, with a reputation for excellence in teaching and research, strong links with business and industry and unrivalled sporting achievement which bodes well for Barrow and his athletic career. Another recent Aspire Academy graduate from the same sprinting group and 2018 IAAF U-20 Championship, 400m hurdles silver medalist, Bassem Hemeida has moved on to full elite training with Qatar Athletics Federation. “There is potential in this new group which l hope will see similar success we achieved with Barrow and Hemeida replicated “, said senior coach Lee Christopher.

Meanwhile at football the student-athletes returned to training for the first time in six months on the 6th of September at Aspire pitches. “It has been a difficult period while we were away from football as we knew it before. During the time when the pandemic made it impossible to train and play, we managed to keep the boys active through online training programmes. Right through to the 10th of July when we took a break. We have now been able to resume albeit under strict adherence to protocol and measure from Aspire Academy medical staff and other relevant authorities. For generation 2005 and 2006 we have combined and divided them into A and B sides to create competition among the players. Those meeting the top expected standards are placed in A and depending on one’s output there will be movement between the two groups. The response has been pleasing and the boys are applying themselves fully to training. These boys are connected to Aspire in an amazing way. Their enthusiasm and commitment to training shown during the time they were training at home and now when we resumed at the pitches can be spelt in one word- dedication”, according to Aspire Generation 2005/6 coach, Ibrahim El-Shafie. The footballers are currently training five days a week and, in the afternoon, only. In a fortnight’s time student-athletes who are currently studying online are expected back in the classrooms and its hoped by then morning training sessions will also resume. For now, however, the news of a return to training has been welcomed by all involved, showing how the normal sporting life as we used to know having been solely missed is coming back. Aspire Academy is playing its part in taking a significant step towards a safe resumption of sport.


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