Aspire wins international acclaim
Doha, December 15, 2007
The youth development programme of Aspire Academy for Sports Excellence has received international recognition at a series of sports conferences this year, most recently being extensively praised at the Soccerex event in South Africa.
Balancing local and international talent has become a significant challenge in the world of football. Even globally popular leagues like the English Premiership are struggling with the issue.
A report released this week by the Players’ Football Association (PFA) says that in 1993, 71 per cent of top-flight players were English, but last season that had dropped to 38 per cent.
Aspire’s approach to talent development, which has seen the Academy evaluate the skills and potential of almost every public school boy in Qatar, has enabled the Academy to develop a strong core team of young Qatari nationals who have opted to specialise in football.
Their ranks have been bolstered by a limited number of scholarship students from developing countries, who have helped raise the overall quality of play on the pitch, pushed the whole team to higher standards and helped to develop football in other countries.
This blend of local scouting activity and international scholarships has provided a firm basis for improvement as the academy has grown.
In a panel discussion on the identification and development of talent at Soccerex, international panellists – including the head of International Development Everton FC, Tony Farrell, former Liverpool legend and coach Phil Thompson and former England coach Graham Taylor – agreed that Qatar’s approach was a strong model for developing the game in emerging football nations.
“We have always looked to position Aspire as an international academy whose primary focus is sport in Qatar. A major part of our approach has been to evaluate talent at an early stage and look to bring out the best in our young sportspeople. This intense, local focus has been matched by a global process of talent identification,” said sports director at Aspire Dr Andreas Bleicher,
Aspire’s student athletes have regularly played at the highest levels of youth football, hosting teams from around the world and participating in camps every summer. The international exposure has enabled them to develop their skills base and also provided them with a strong insight into the pressures and challenges of life as a professional footballer. – TradeArabia News Service