Doha, 5 November 2019. The 4th ‘Association of Sports Institutes in Asia’ (ASIA) Congress got off to fine start on first day at Aspire Academy on Tuesday 5th November 2019 with Qatar national football coach, Felix Sanchez Bas telling the participants that, Qatar’s lifting of the Asian Cup has hugely impacted the sports development in the country.
“The purposeful plan and intention shown by Qatar and Aspire Academy in choosing to be patient in building and developing a team over going for immediate results proved to be worthwhile. This pathway has made other sports code in the country seek to emulate this approach,” said Coach Felix who is also the Qatar U-23 national football head coach. During the same session Dr Alberto Mendez-Villanueva who is the head of Fitness at Qatar Football Association and works closely with Felix Sanchez Bas, sought to correct the misunderstanding in some quarters about challenges presented by training during Muslim holy month of Ramadan. “Contrary to the notion out there amongst some that there can’t be training during Ramadan, we in Qatar have come to appreciate and understand that is not the case. What we do is to adjust the training times to when its best to training just as intense as any other period but in consideration of the fasting time period observed by players. So, for instance we run full training at night with the players applying themselves like at any other time, so from this perspective you can see how time of Ramadan has often been misunderstood or should l say misrepresented”.
The Congress was officially opened by Aspire Academy Deputy Director General and Chairman of the 4th ASIA Congress, Mr Ali Salem Afifa who in his welcoming speech to the participants, encouraged the congress to continue sharing around the development of a high-performance environment for aspiring athletes on the continent of Asia. The President of ASIA, Dr Takahiro Waku in his opening address expressed his gratitude and delight to be in Qatar at the world renowned Aspire Academy, “On behalf of the Association of Sports Institutes in Asia’ l want to thank the people of Qatar and Aspire Academy for hosting us at this fabulous institution. We are aware of the role Aspire Academy has been playing in Qatar’s rise as a sporting giant in the world and we are most pleased to hold our 4th Congress here.” ASIA president, Dr Takahiro and his deputy Mr Toh Boon Yi went on to inaugurate the two new members of ASIA, namely Chengdu Sports University from China and Cambodia’s National Institute of Physical Education and Sport
The Congress also heard from Aspire Academy graduate and Qatar’s number 1 Squash player who is currently 46 in the World, Abdulla Al-Tamimi who alongside his coach former World No. 1 Squash player Geoff Hunt. “What stands out for me in my journey in my sport so far is how the realization that through the national sport development programs the country has started in several places – in my case it was at Aspire Academy and where l working with coach Geoff Hunt l came to realise the opportunities to apply myself fully to be the best l could be in my sport.
The founding members of the Association of Sports Institutes in Asia’ (ASIA) namely the Japan Sports Council, Singapore Sports Institute, Hong Kong Sports Institute and Aspire Academy then presented on the topic of transitioning of athletes from youth to senior from senior. Singapore is a small nation of about 3,5 million people and we decided to prioritise the sports to develop and play and we feel this optimizes the resources and energies and is more likely to brings us the goals we are aiming for, said Dr Su Chun Wei of the Singapore Sports Institute.
According to Dr Daniel Lee from Hong Kong Sports Institute, they have 500 full time athletes of and rely o the coaches and trainers in deciding and determine when the youth are ready to transition to senior competition. “The vision for Hong Kong Sports Institute is to create a suitable environment and support to train and develop athletes. That’s what we do and see our role as coming alongside the professionals working with the athletes to ensure the transition is smooth and brings the best desired goals for the athletes,” said Dr Daniel Lee.
As for Japanese approach, Dr Takahiro Waku said, “The journey to preparing the athletes from youth to senior in Japan is constantly being monitored and institutes of high performance are leading the way in research and documenting some of the findings from which the Japanese Sports Council then formulates policy inline with approaches found to work better for our athletes”.
Meanwhile the afternoon session opened with a captivating presentation by Dr Duncan Simpson, the head of mental conditioning at IMG Academy. The developmental academy has an enrolment of about 1200 students across multi sports starting from age 8 to 18. IMG Academy is quite like Aspire Academy and Dr Simpson was keen to emphasize that each institution will have to craft what works for its goals and objectives just as IMG has found through an ongoing process over the 42 years since it was founded. “At IMG we looked at Multidisciplinary versus Interdisciplinary approach and settled for Interdisciplinary because with this approach there is more collaboration which is crucial for any high-performance environment, said Dr Simpson
Day 2 of the ASIA Congress continues with the topic of Implementation of Sports Technology research and innovation into performance programmes and a series of presentations on Wednesday 6th November 2019.