Doha, 7 October 2019. The 5th edition of the “Aspire Academy Global Summit” on Football Performance and Science kicked off on Monday afternoon and gathered delegates from 50 football clubs and federations as well as big names in international football such as Tottenham FC manager Mauricio Pochettino, the retired Argentinian top forward Hernan Crespo, former Real Madrid-coach Santiago Solari and former Australian star player Tim Cahill in the “Asia Auditorium” of the Academy’s Football Performance Center.
In the official opening, Ivan Bravo, Director General of Aspire Academy, welcomed the guests and described their community – the “Aspire in the World Fellows” – as unique in terms of working together in the world of global football. “I am happy to see a lot of very familiar faces from previous editions in Paris, Berlin, London and Amsterdam and I also welcome the people that join us today for the first time.”
He stressed that the location of this year’s Summit – the Academy’s Football Performance Center – was also a good example for great teamwork that originated from an idea that he discussed with Football Performance & Science Director and “Aspire in the World Fellows” founder Valter di Salvo eight years ago. “There were some stops on the road, everybody had to get in the same state of mind and it’s not easy to put the “we” in front of the “I”, but the result of what we accomplished is truly amazing.”
Ivan Bravo also took the time to reflect on the things he talked about in previous editions of the Global Summit and stressed that this forum is an ideal platform to share experiences and to collaborate in order to get new ideas that can help to contribute something to their clubs and in return also contribute something to the success of the “Aspire in the World Fellows” community. Furthermore, he reflected on the development of football in Qatar in the recent years.
“There are many great ideas in football, but often times we face obstacles. We are fortunate here in Qatar that everyone has a lot of patience, because in order to achieve something it takes resilience. I previously told you about our road map, our vision towards 2022 and the milestones that show our progression. And in order to progress you need continuity and trust in the people that have worked with the young generations of Qatari footballers day in and day out and every year we felt that we made another step forward. We built our athletes knowing their weaknesses and the context in which they are in. We worked step by step and then the triumph at the Asian Cup happened with a whole nation behind us. An unthinkable result when you think that Qatar faced those monsters in terms of their population and football history. This achievement gives us the energy give us one more push. And we keep pushing and learning from one another. That’s why we keep bringing good coaches to the league in Qatar, so the players keep developing,” said Bravo.
Before the first “Master Class” conducted by Mauricio Pochettino, the Executive Director of the “Aspire in the World Fellows” program, Valter di Salvo, addressed the audience and said that he was delighted to finally be able to welcome the Fellows in Qatar. “The layout of our summits is quite special. It reminds of the Majlis, the traditional set-up for people to gather in Qatar. We don’t want to teach people something, we want people to share and work together. And that is our goal over the next three days. Furthermore, we are able to do that in Aspire Academy’s Football Performance Center, a hub where we develop our players and that was designed under the premise to send the sport scientists to the pitches in contrast to sending football players to the labs.”
Di Salvo proudly told about the exemplary work the community has done since 2014 including the creation of 260 presentations that were uploaded on the Fellows’ online platform and the first research publication in an international Journal of Sport Science a week ago. “Each year we keep moving forward and it’s one of my dreams for this community to give something back to people that are not as fortunate as us in the future.”
Speaking on the fifth edition of the event, Global Summit Chairman Ali Salem Afifa said that “this is an opportunity to renew contacts and discuss topics of mutual interest with delegates from all over the world in a one of the latest distinctive football settings - the Aspire Academy Football Performance Center. I am sure everyone will have fruitful and rewarding exchanges of ideas in the next few days and I wish them every success with this important conference and a very pleasant stay in Doha.”