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Issue 3 / 2013. Quarterly.

A s p i r e A c a d e m y S P O R T S A N D E D U C AT I O N M A G A Z I N E

Inspiring champion How Olympic medalist Nasser Al-Attiyah manages to be one of the world’s best in two disciplines.

The dream How Khalfan Ibrahim Khalfan became the first Qatari figure to feature in a TV commercial for Aspire Academy.

Welcome! Anyone who sees the Qatar National Vision 2030 as a goal for the dim and distant future has failed to fully appreciate the concept; it is relevant right now, a source of motivation and inspiration, an appeal to each and everyone to make improvements every day. We at Aspire Academy are fully aware of our responsibility to help implement this ambitious vision. It is our job to offer the most talented young men of a generation an education which promotes patriotism and cosmopolitanism, fairness and a desire to win, a zest for life and a strong work ethic. There are a lot of qualities our students can learn from exercising sports, such as fairness or team spirit. In addition, Aspire Academy’s 44 teachers from 18 nations give their best to prepare them for the challenges they are going to face after they leave school, so they have the right tools to start successful professional careers. In this issue of CHAMP, two of them, Andrew Napier from Scotland and Ahmed Hussain from Qatar, provide insight into dayto-day life in the unique environment of the Academy. It will be easier to achieve the national vision if role models can embrace its ideals. One such role model is the phenomenal Nasser Al-Attiyah, who in an exclusive interview with CHAMP explains why competitive shooting makes him a better rally driver and why rally driving makes him a better shooter. And he reveals his big aim for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro: Gold for Qatar! Enjoy reading CHAMP 03/13! Iván Bravo Director General, Aspire Academy Doha, Qatar

Contents 18



Twice as good: Nasser Al-Attiyah on the secret of his success at the pinnacle of international rally driving and shooting.

Football machine: The Footbonaut is the most cuttingedge training device in the world and is on its way to Qatar.

High expectations: Two teachers on the advantages of the unique academic environment for students at Aspire Academy.

New home: Two of Aspire Academy’s football aces report back on their first weeks in their adopted home of Salzburg.







My Doha: Qatar’s capital city as seen by Aspire’s international staff. They present their favourite places. HOMEBASE



NASSER AL-ATTIYAH is two of Qatar’s most successful athletes: the 42-year-old was the 2011 Dakar Rally winner and also won the bronze medal in the men’s skeet event at the 2012 London Olympics. AL-ATTIYAH spoke to CHAMP about his dual sporting career – and his big ambitions for Rio.

There’ll be gold for Qatar in 2016


Nasser Al-Attiyah successfully combines rally racing and shooting.

Shooting enables me to concentrate better when I’m driving. 06

Nasser, you are one of the most exceptional top athletes in the world: you are both a world-class rally driver and sport shooter. How did you come to be so passionate about two so very different sports? I’ve always been mad about motor sport, ever since I was a kid. And my passion for shooting comes from my father. When I was twelve, he took me hunting for the first time and he taught me how to shoot properly. I became a pro shooter aged 20, and I got into motor sport three years later. What are the attributes an athlete needs to reach the pinnacle of two different sports? Most of all you need to be prepared to work really hard. To start with, practicing two sports at the same time at such a high level is massively time-consuming. You’re hardly ever at home, and rarely get to see your family. But I love the challenge. Nobody believed I’d be able to maintain such a level of success in both sports for any length of time. But I always told the naysayers I could do it.

Practicing two sports at the same time at such a high level is massively timeconsuming. But I love the challenge.

A thought experiment: do you think you’d be a better shooter if you gave up motor sport, and vice versa? No, because both sports are mutually beneficial. Shooting enables me to concentrate better when I’m driving. And in turn, I try to apply the confidence and control I get from rally driving to shooting. And the success I enjoy in both sports means I’m justified. I’ve won the Dakar Rally, the FIA Middle East Rally Championship multiple

times and the “World Cup for Cross Country Rallies in 2008”. In shooting I’ve competed in five Olympic Games, have enjoyed considerable success and set a world record.

At the 2012 London Olympics your bronze medal in the skeet event was Qatar’s first Olympic medal in twelve years. How does it feel to make history? It was amazing. Everyone was so proud of the medal. Having narrowly missed out on medals at the three previous Olympic Games, I was determined to win one this time. I never stopped believing and was incredibly relieved when I finally did it. You turn 43 in December – an age when top athletes tend to start winding things down. And you have enough laurels to rest on. Oh no, it’s still far too early for that! There’s Rio in 2016. I have one clear goal: gold for Nasser Abdullah Al-Attiya, gold for Qatar! How important was the medal for your homeland of Qatar? Very important, because sport in Qatar is growing in popularity right now and international achievements such as these are the best kind of motivation for athletes and sporting associations.


In motor sport my Dakar Rally win was a dream come true.


In London your fellow countryman Mutaz Essa Barshim also picked up a medal. He comes from Aspire Academy’s talent pool. What do you think of the Academy? Mutaz’s achievement in London was incredible and of course he benefitted from the training he received as a youth at Aspire Academy. The Academy is great for young people aspiring to be top athletes. We can be happy that there is such an establishment in Qatar. What can sport teach young people about life, and to what extent do athletes benefit from better education? Many of the attributes you need in sport, such as motivation or endurance, are also important on a day-to-day basis. And a good, solid academic education is hugely important, especially in the long term. Shooting is one of the sports taught at Aspire Academy, but not skeet shooting. Why did you opt for this discipline over fixed target shooting? My passion for shooting started with hunting, where the targets are moving, and you need to concentrate on what’s happening around you. It’s more active than fixed target shooting. That’s why I like it. Fixed target shooting is comparable to circuit racing, skeet shooting to rallying? (Laughs) Good comparison. Skeet shooting is like rallying in that there is more action and power involved.

How would you explain the attraction of shooting sport to a layperson? Shooting is a sport of respect, perhaps more so than any other sport. You have to respect the coaches and the athletes who have more experience than you do, because you can learn something from them. You need to respect others before you yourself can develop. And that’s a lesson you can benefit from enormously as a person. I firmly believe that a good shooter must also be a good person. Plus shooting is all about focus and it teaches you to be so much more aware of your surroundings.

Many of the attributes you need in sport, such as motivation or endurance, are also important on a DAY-TO-DAY basis.

What do your rally peers think about you continually swapping your car for a gun? They are hugely supportive. When I competed in the Olympics in August 2012, this was when the New Zealand Rally was taking place, and all the drivers followed my progress on TV and congratulated me from the paddock. But my fellow skeet shooters also follow my motor sport career.

If you had to choose one, what would be your greatest sporting achievement? I can compete against and beat the world’s best in two different sports, but this question is beyond me. (Laughs) In motor sport, my Dakar Rally win was a dream come true. As was my Olympic medal in the skeet. No, as for which achievement was sweeter, I can’t say. But ask me again after Rio!



FROM VIRTUAL TO REALITY He used to be a champion on his PlayStation, now Salman Al-Khater has the chance to prove his skills behind a real wheel.


At the start of the year, Salman Al-Khater (29) was still only familiar with the race circuits of this world via the Gran Turismo PlayStation game. But then the mechanical engineer from Qatar won the GT Academy Middle East 2013. And swapped his PS3 controller for the steering wheel of a real Nissan 370Z GT4. Left his job to follow his passion, getting deeper and deeper into the racing world. A big step that will be supported from now on by sport science experts of Aspire Academy. An interview about this incredible switch from dream to cockpit. Salman, you are currently living your dream of being a professional race driver. What was the first reaction of your family and friends when they heard about your plans? My family and friends had mixed feelings about it, but they knew that being a race driver had been a dream of mine for such a long time. Giving up my job was definitely a risk worth taking, because there is nothing more fulfilling than working your dream job! Where does your enthusiasm for motor sports come from? When I was a young kid, I always enjoyed playing with toy cars in the house. As soon as I became a teenager I couldn’t wait to get into a car of some sort, maybe a pedal kart, and always loved go-karting when I travelled. It’s


always been a dream for me to race cars and now I am finally here, and I really didn’t expect it to happen in this way. Where do you think the huge interest for motor sports in Qatar comes from? I think the main passion for the average adult male here is speed. But there is a problem of motor sport accessibility for the average Qatari, as most of the available events are very costly. I think there needs to be a much cheaper form of racing such as karting to really show how much passion for motor sport the Qataris have. I truly believe that one day Qatar will have a superstar in F1 and other forms of car racing. In order to make your dream of professional racing come true, you had to beat thousands of opponents on the PlayStation to ultimately win the GT Academy Middle East Challenge. What qualities were necessary to win this challenge? I think the main aspect was the will and belief to win. From there I kept practicing both on the PlayStation and in a real car to really hone my skills. I also had to work really hard on my fitness to get up to standard for competition. GT Academy was truly an amazing competition and really demands the best of you both mentally and physically. Have you always been an avid gamer? When I was younger I played a lot more games than I do now, mainly because I have more responsibilities in life. I still play Gran Turismo, though, because I don’t think of it as just a

issues. So it is always important to follow the safety instructions for each game and always be responsible with the amount of time you spend gaming.

game, it is a simulator that can really improve your driving skills and for sure keep your coordination and vision at an excellent level. Scientists disagree on whether games are beneficial or harmful to teenagers. It’s obvious which view you support. What are the positive aspects of games for kids and teens? I would have to say that games do have benefits and in many different ways. A great example is Gran Turismo and how it has been shown to develop great drivers like Lucas Ordonez. Other games provide challenges for the mind to continuously solve problems and puzzles and there are other issues that really help with hand-eye coordination. I would have to say that too much gaming may have negative effects, such as eye problems and other

Now you are already sitting in the cockpit of a Nissan. How has your life changed since becoming a pro racer? My life has changed a lot since winning GT Academy. I spend most of my days doing physical training and spend any time I can in a race car. I used to be a mechanical engineer in a gas plant, so you can just imagine the difference in lifestyle. What have you learnt from playing games that you can apply in the cockpit? There are many techniques I’ve learned from Gran Turismo that I currently use in the cockpit. First of all, it has taught me about racing lines, which is the fastest way around a race track. It has also taught me vision, which is a critical part of driving a race car. I would have to say that it has taught me many of the basic techniques involved in racing a car. Now it’s about adapting to the speed, weight of the car, and to the fear, which I never had with the PlayStation. Your first “real” race took place in September 2013 at the famous Silverstone circuit in England. How was your first experience as a professional racer? It was a truly amazing experience. It was my first professional race and first endurance race. The feeling of driving a GT4 car was just incredible and to be racing against 30 other cars was just unbelievable. Finally, to finish the race first in production class and eighth overall was the best result we could have hoped for. I would have to say that finishing first in my first professional race was the best feeling ever. 11

moments of glory

Qatar’s big jump

It was a historical moment for high jumper Mutaz Essa Barshim and Qatar when the former Aspire Academy student won the bronze medal at the Olympic Games in London on 7 AUGUST 2012. IN HONOUR OF HIS SUCCESS, the 22-year-old was also named “Athlete of the season” by the Qatar Olympic Committee.


Watch the jump on your mobile!

2.29 metres



Behind the Scenes What is Aspire Academy all about? To answer this question, the successful Qatari football player Khalfan Ibrahim Khalfan starred in the academy’s latest TV commercial that was shot in October. The result speaks for itself.


Watch the commercial on your mobile!


or someone who knows the philosophy of Aspire Academy the message is quite simple. “The whole story revolves around how much effort it takes to become a champion – not just in sports, but also in life; thanks to their complete and excellent educational programme,” says executive producer Joyce Hadife of City Films. In order to capture this on film, a crew of nearly 60 people from all over the world came to the city of Doha, Aspire Academy and the Aspire Zone for a five-day shoot. The preparation on scene took two weeks, and before that lay weeks of planning. When it came to directing the commercial, the choice fell on Christian Lyngby. The Danish director had previously done many outstanding sport jobs and worked on big brand sport events like the Asian Games or the recent Gilette campaign for the Olympics in London 2012. Together, with the long established production company City Films, which is known in this part of the world for its challenging projects and passion for detail, he put all his energy into creating a commercial that conveys the unique message of the academy. The star of the commercial was, of course, a successful Qatari athlete: famous football player Khalfan Ibrahim Khalfan, a former “Asian Player of the Year”. The film crew were quite happy with their star. “He was very patient and professional,” Joyce Hadife recalls. And the 25-yearold football player commented on his acting experience: “It was fun and I’m sure the outcome of the shoot is just very, very good. I am sure the commercial will be a huge success and show people what Aspire is all about.” The new commercial of Aspire Academy will be broadcast locally in Qatar, and additionally on international TV channels like CNN, Eurosport and others.



Curtain up for Aspire Academy! 01 A lot of people sat up and took note of Aspire Academy’s new TV commercial, which was launched with the help of Qatar Football Association (QFA) and Qatar Stars League (QSL), on December 3.


02 The commercial focuses on a young Qatari boy, played by Hassan Juma, and his football hero, Khalfan Ibrahim Khalfan. It explains how Aspire Academy provides the tools to achieve excellence, including a dedicated team of coaches, teachers, sports scientists and state-of-the-art facilities. 03 Discussing his depiction as a role model in the advertisement, Khalfan Ibrahim Khalfan said, “I am delighted to have been given the opportunity to be a part of a campaign that aims to encourage young athletes to work hard to achieve their dreams.” 15



Huge success for the football players of Qatar: The under-19 national team won the AFC qualifiers with four wins in four games against Uzbekistan (2:1), India (2:0), Turkmenistan (7:0) and Nepal (2:0). As a result they are going to be one of the teams playing in the Asian Cup, which will be held in Myanmar in October 2014. This is also living proof of the fruitful cooperation between Aspire Academy and QFA, since 23 players of the squad currently attend Aspire Academy.

The under-16 national team of Qatar did also very well this year and qualified for the Asian Cup 2014 in Thailand.

Aspire supports Breast Cancer Awareness October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month. That is why Aspire Academy, through its Aspire Active community outreach programme, organised educational and fitness activities, in an effort to raise awareness of breast cancer through education on symptoms and prevention for women. Staff of the academy were encouraged to show their support by wearing pink T-shirts and wristbands and becoming part of a collective force of scientists, supporters and people affected by breast cancer. In addition to the “Walk of Life” theme class on Breast Cancer Awareness Day on October 29, midwife and childbirth educator Anna Noordervliet from Aspire Active also gave a presentation on “Breastfeeding and its related health benefits” on October 31.


TriSeries September 15 to 20, 2013 Teams: Kashiwa Reysol (Japan), FC Red Bull Salzburg (Austria), Aspire Academy Age groups: 1999, 2001

TriSeries September 22 to 26, 2013 Teams: Real Sociedad (Spain), Al-Rayyan SC (Qatar), Aspire Academy

SKILL COMES WITH PRACTICE The “TriSeries” has become an institution at Aspire Academy: Three international teams of the same age groups meet in Doha and compete with each other. The goal? Facing strong opponents, gaining match experience and meeting different styles of football. Besides that, the players get to know peers from different cultural backgrounds. So the games become a learning process in more than one way.

Age group: 1996/97

TriSeries November 3 to 8, 2013 Teams: Nagoya Grampus (Japan), SL Benfica (Portugal), Aspire Academy Age groups: 1999, 2000, 2001

SPORT ICONS VISIT ASPIRE4SPORT In November 2013 the 4th edition of ASPIRE4SPORT, a recognised world-class conference and the Middle East’s leading sports business congress and exhibition, took place in Doha. In the course of this four-day event, two conferences, namely Coliseum Summit and Sports Infrastructure, were held atAspire Dome. The congress brought not only 4,200 visitors and 1,000 delegates to Doha, but also sport icons such as basketball legends Shaquille O’Neal and Alonzo Mourning, world-class footballer Alan Shearer and former undisputed world heavyweight boxing champion Lennox Lewis.



A footballer’s

playgr Hit wh the ich t ligharget ts up


Watch the Footbonaut on your mobile!

The most cutting-edge training device the world of football has ever seen is coming to Qatar: with the Footbonaut, the student athletes of Aspire Academy will get to experience another method of training that has already proven to be very successful.


The targets could be anywhere

Receive the balls with up to 120 km/h


eads of sweat trickle down his brow. He breathes deeply. He looks edgy, as if on the run, he skips, pawing at the green artificial turf with the studs of his football boots. There’s a loud acoustic signal. Quick as a flash the player spins around on the spot, his eyes fixed on the ball now hurtling towards him, and in the same instant he sees out of the corner of his right eye a square light up on the wall. A small sidestep, a subtle bend in the knee, he takes the ball on his chest, drops it to his left foot, a quick flick of the ankle and a perfect shot into the target square. A few seconds later the same spectacle starts all over again: acoustic signal, ball, illuminated square. And again: signal, ball, square. Continuously for the next ten, fifteen minutes. 19

1 A week in 15 minutes You’d be forgiven for thinking that what’s happening here is pretty strange. But it’s actually a very serious business and the most innovative training system in the football world right now – the Footbonaut. The Footbonaut is a tool the German top team Borussia Dortmund already swears by – and now it’s going to be installed outside of Germany for the first time, at Aspire Academy, with the aim of helping young, talented players reach the pinnacle of their sport. The device is the brainchild of Germany’s Christian Güttler (43) and his company CGoal. “After fifteen minutes in the cage, a player will have received and passed on as many balls as he would in a normal week of training,” claims Güttler, a true all-rounder. He has worked as a film editor and textile designer. He studied piano and guitar at Folkwang-Hochschule in Essen – which taught him that repetition is the secret to perfection. He wrote his dissertation on the significance of the ear in motor learning – and now players are alerted by a beep every time the Footbonaut fires a new ball.

Robert Lewandowski of Borussia Dortmund honed his skills in the cage and then applied them on the pitch – making him one of the most efficient strikers in Europe.


The targets: 72 panels light up to show the player where the balls have to go.




The perfect training device The Footbonaut is new. Borussia Dortmund became the first top team to exploit its potential when it began using the machine in 2012. Dortmund coach Jürgen Klopp was left suitably impressed with his innovative squad member at the end of the first season. “The Footbonaut is the perfect tool to improve ball handling skills. It demands precise skills used at speed in a physically tough environment. It’s quite a package!” During his last period of rehabilitation, the Footbonaut allowed Dortmund’s midfielder Jakub Blaszczykowski to rediscover his ball handling confidence and recapture his former speed endurance. Aspire Academy Football Director Roberto Olabe was one of the first international experts to take a serious look at the Footbonaut and to recognise the potential of this innovative device. “Players have to work on themselves continually if they hope to improve. In football, first contact with the ball is everything. And this tool allows players to work on exactly that,” he says. "And the Footbonaut gives you the chance to compete against somebody. And that is always an extra motivation."



The challenge: Players receive balls randomly from four different directions.


Perfect individual training And so the Footbonaut was born: a 14x14m training cage. A player takes up residence in a circle at the centre of the device’s artificial turf surface and is fed balls randomly from any of four different directions. These balls also vary in height, speed and spin. The player must control the ball, quickly hit it first time and then shoot it into one of 72 1.4x1.4m panels, depending on which one lights up. Once the ball has gone through the appropriate panel another beep alerts the player as to where the next ball is coming from. The Footbonaut can also be controlled using either a smart phone or tablet, and each training session can be tailored to the skill level or position of the respective player. “This means you can target specific weaknesses,” explains Olabe.

The Footbonaut: A 14x14m training cage.

Striving for perfection The Footbonaut is basically a ball feeding machine, the likes of which have been around in tennis, hockey and baseball for a long time. With one major difference: it is designed to replicate and precisely simulate the characteristics of a team sport that is becoming ever quicker and increasingly demanding. Christian Güttler had his famous light bulb moment when he heard a quote from FC Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger. “Wenger described an excellent player as someone capable of finding the best possible solution in any random situation. It’s this ability that makes him valuable to his own team and dangerous to the opposition,” recalls the inventor. In 2006 he and his 20-man team of experts in mechatronics, electronics, mathematics, statistics, software and sports science set about developing a device designed to hone precisely those qualities described by Wenger: speed, precision, performance consistency, adaptability.

German inventor Christian Güttler (43) developed the most cutting-edge training device the world of football has ever seen.


Every split second counts Players are put to the test in intensive sessions lasting around ten minutes: the balls are ejected at various heights from a distance of just seven metres and at speeds of up to 120km/h, and the pace of each delivery can be set, as well as whether the ball has spin on it. “Repetition and intensity are crucial if you want to conquer a particular skill, whether that be playing football, tennis or learning the piano,” says Güttler. It has been scientifically proven that regular training with the Footbonaut can improve receiving and passing skill. “Average players can improve their ball handling speed by whole seconds, and top players by tenths of a second. But at this level this is often what makes all the difference.”

Repetition and intensity are crucial if you want to conquer a particular skill, whether that be playing football, tennis or learning the piano.

Continually monitor development The Footbonaut is tailormade for Aspire Academy for several reasons: first, the Academy’s football students are at just the right learning age, making the device especially effective. Second, data are collected during every training session and subsequently used to create a profile for each player, enabling the coach to target and work on specific weaknesses. “This makes the Footbonaut a very useful tool for continually monitoring the development of our players,” says Olabe, who also intends to use the device to test potential players. “A player’s ball handling speed is a very good indication of the level to which that player is suited. We tested 200 players aged 16 and there was an undeniable correlation between the results of the Footbonaut and the leagues in which they play,” explains Güttler. This correlation also applies to the pro football players: “In Germany a ball handling speed of three seconds would put you in the third division at best. A Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo would come in at around 1.8 seconds.”


Improvement on many levels Aspire Academy Football Director Roberto Olabe explains how the Footbonaut is to become another piece in the puzzle for establishing an excellent PLAYER DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME in Qatar.

How will the Footbonaut be integrated into the training process of the Academy? Will it be used in the scouting process as well? Programmes will be tailored to specific tasks for individual work. For this reason, the Footbonaut can also be a tool for the development of individual tests for potential Academy players. How, specifically, will the players of Aspire Academy benefit from the Footbonaut? This tool will improve the first contact with the ball. That is the key in the development of the player, because a bad reception of the ball delays the decision-making process. It will also help us to improve the speed of execution and skills such as controlling and passing.

What positive short-term and long-term effects are expected from the use of the Footbonaut? The benefit will come with the development of a faster and more efficient player in terms of the decision-making process and with greater accuracy in execution and pass control technique.

Does every player benefit from this device, regardless of his position, talent or age? All players have scope for improvement in generic aspects such as reception and first contact with the ball, regardless of their position. Improving the cognitive process has a relation to the overall game rather than to a particular position. But the tool also allows us to program various tasks related to the player’s profile and specific position in the field. And, of course, the Footbonaut is also good in terms of motivation. Every player likes to compete against others, even if it’s against a machine.

How many times a week will players train with the Footbonaut and who will process the data collected? That will depend on the individual cycle and the training loads. For the data, we will have a coach who will be responsible for the individual development unit of the players. He will be in charge of the management, control and monitoring of various programmes and data. Will machines like the Footbonaut ever be able to replace coaches in the future? A machine will never be able to replace a person, because you need a person to develop programmes and tasks related to development. The game has an internal logic in which the coach must explore to proposed tasks related to the training. A machine like the Footbonaut is a fantastic complement, but never a substitute. 23




History of the sport Shooting sport goes back centuries. In countries such as Germany there are even clubs which are more than 500 years old. Its popularity in English-speaking countries increased with the creation of shooting associations in England in 1859 and the United States in 1871. The father of the modern Olympic Games, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, was himself an avid shooter and as French national pistol champion it was his idea to include the sport in the Athens Olympic Games of 1896. The various shooting disciplines are generally based on the type of weapon: bow, crossbow, rifle/ shotgun and pistol/revolver.


Targets In contrast to skeet shooting – the discipline of Qatar’s Nasser Al Attiyah, who won the bronze medal in the men’s skeet event at the 2012 London Olympics – which involves shooting at moving targets, shooting sport disciplines use a fixed target. Circular targets have a ring configuration, and in most disciplines the target is marked with a maximum of ten concentric rings. The nearer to the centre of the target, the higher the score the shooter is awarded. Circular targets were introduced to avoid associating the sport with human or animal targets.

Focused girls Aspire’s girls’ programme started a sport shooting group in 2009. Since then, Aspire has transferred 22 Qatari female athletes that are now training as part of national federation teams. Three of Aspire’s talented female athletes were transferred from their start in rifle and pistol training to the skeet event. Reem Al Sharshani, Sara Ghulam and Hajar Ghulam have all had great success representing Qatar. Al Sharshani represented Qatar in the last Arab games and won a silver medal in the skeet team event.

Shooting is a very important discipline at Aspire Academy, and a “Memorandum of Understanding” was signed with the Qatar Shooting and Archery Federation (QSAF) in June 2013. The aim is to forge an even closer working relationship. A good opportunity to delve deeper into the basics of this fascinating sport.

Olympic Games At the first modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896, there were five shooting events, predominantly with military weapons – two for rifles and three for pistols. At the 1900 Olympics in Paris, live pigeons were even used as targets. With the exception of St. Louis 1904 and Amsterdam 1928, shooting has always been an Olympic sport. Since the Los Angeles Olympic Games in 1984, women have taken part in separate events; previously, from 1968 they were part of the men’s teams.

Shooting star Osburn One of the sport’s most successful shooters was American Carl Osburn, who won a total of eleven Olympic medals between 1912 and 1920, five of which were gold.

Competition In competition, shooters generally have, depending on discipline and age class, 20, 30, 40 or 60 shots. The targets are mostly ten ring configurations, though air rifle competitions have for some time used almost exclusively five- or ten-spot target cards. Over the past fifteen years, there has been an increasing tendency towards the use of electronic measuring systems, thanks to which measurements have become significantly more precise.

Shooting at Aspire Aspire Academy is now continuing the great tradition of shooting sport in Qatar. Its student athletes have already represented their country at several events at both junior and senior level. The students are trained in collaboration with coaches from the Qatar Shooting and Archery Federation (QSAF). 2013 saw further development of this successful partnership with the opening of the Aspire Dome indoor shooting range, where 12 MSDP female athletes and four male athletes currently train. A very successful partnership that shows the potential Qatar has when entities work together towards one common goal.



THE combination between sport and education sets aspire Academy clearly apart from other schools in Qatar. Science teacher Andrew Napier (39) and history teacher Ahmed Hussain (41) IN A joint interview about their work as educators in this unique academic environment.


Ahmed Hussain (41), a native Qatari, has been teaching history at Aspire Academy since 2006.

Andrew Napier (39) is a science teacher at Aspire Academy and was born in Scotland.

To begin with, it seems appropriate to ask how you ended up at Aspire Academy. Andrew Napier: I’ve been living in Qatar for five years and have been a science teacher at Aspire Academy for three. Before that I worked at a physiotherapy clinic in England, where I trained people working in the fitness industry. It is this background and my interest in the relationship between sport and the body that got me into teaching. Which is especially interesting at Aspire Academy, because the students are obviously very keen to know about what’s going on in their bodies. Incidentally my wife, who is Australian, is also a teacher at an international school. Living and working here is a very different experience compared with other countries where I’ve lived in the past, like Italy, the USA, Australia or Malaysia. Qatar has a unique attitude towards life. Ahmed Hussain: I started teaching in 1995, and have been a teacher at Aspire Academy since 2006. For me, too, my sporting background was a factor; among other things I was an international volleyball referee. In the context of the sporting aspect of the national vision, I found the prospect of working at Aspire Academy very attractive.

Andrew Napier: A bit of both. A good education is of course important to parents, but the significance of sport has grown enormously over the past few years, thanks in part to the national vision, which promotes a healthy lifestyle. That’s very positive for our work. Ahmed Hussain: Ever since Qatar hosted the Asian Games in 2006, sport has been seen in a different light. They used to call us sports tourists at major events, but now the excitement about athletes from Qatar is growing throughout the sporting world. Being awarded the 2022 World Cup was of course an added source of motivation.

The western approach tends to focus more on creativity, whereas in Qatar there is much more focus on science.

What do parents expect from an education at Aspire Academy? A model student or a future Olympic athlete?

Education is important, of course, because there are never any guarantees that an athlete will make it to the very top of his sport. How do students deal with that?

Ahmed Hussain: It’s tough at the top, of course. But we make it clear to our students from the outset that it is a challenge and that studying in the classroom is part of the process. It’s also important to us. That’s why we try to cater as much as possible to each individual student, which we do by keeping class sizes down to 15 students, for example. It’s also about establishing a good teacher-student relationship. It’s important to have a good relationship between teachers and students, as well as between the students themselves. The seniors can help the juniors to get settled in quicker.


Andrew Napier: It’s also important to point out that 69 percent of our graduates go on to further education. That makes us very proud, because the figure is only 29 percent for most schools in Qatar. And it’s also worth mentioning that our students don’t just go on to study in Qatar, but at top universities abroad as well. Other graduates go on to pursue careers as professional athletes after leaving our Academy, join the armed forces or go straight into a job. Which also says a great deal about the work of us teachers. Nevertheless, working with student athletes must differ from working with “regular” students? Andrew Napier: I think it’s important as a teacher to be aware of the pressures on the students. I represented Qatar in a rugby tournament this year and afterwards I understood the students even better. It’s very important to take their special requirements into consideration. You have to remember that many of the students are competing in tournaments, taking part in events abroad, and that their education cannot be allowed to suffer. Ahmed Hussain: I agree. What our students have to deal with differs from students in other schools. Whether in sport or in the classroom, we always expect them to deliver at the highest level. And that’s why it’s also important that our students get the best possible support.

The teaching staff at Aspire Academy, like that of many other international schools in Qatar, comprises teachers from many different countries. 44 teachers from 18 countries – is that reflected in the teaching? Andrew Napier: Of course the diversity of cultural backgrounds means that approaches to teaching differ. I think the western approach tends to focus more on creativity, whereas in Qatar there is much more focus on science, which of course has a lot to do with the natural resources of the country. Ahmed Hussain: And every teacher is of course an individual who interprets the syllabus in their own way. Everyone is different.

whether in sport or in the classroom, we always expect our students to deliver at the highest level.

Does sport have a positive effect on what goes on in the classroom? Andrew Napier: Countless studies have shown that cognitive skills can be improved through physical activity. Sport can have a positive effect on behaviour in the classroom, because physical activity provides an outlet for excess energy. Ahmed Hussain: The students’ timetable is really very well balanced and thought-out. That’s why they are able to put in top performances day in, day out, in both training and the classroom.


A good relationship between teachers and students must undoubtedly be one piece of the puzzle in terms of a good education at the Academy, though?

Ahmed Hussain: A good, harmonious, collaborative teacher-student relationship is very important to us, because students spend most of their week at the Academy. It’s important for them to have someone they can trust completely. Whether that’s an international or a local teacher is secondary. More important are trust and respect. Foreign languages also play a big role in multicultural environments such as this one, of course. What’s your view on this? Andrew Napier: Of course they play an important role. Many athletes dream of playing for clubs like Barcelona, Real Madrid or Manchester City. Akram Afif learnt Spanish for his stint in Spain. Ahmed Hussain: Being able to speak the language and communicate are immensely important in terms of integrating into a new environment, and that’s why learning languages is important at the Academy. Besides English, our students can also learn French or Spanish, for example.

The demand for excellence at Aspire Academy also applies to the teachers, of course. Expectations in terms of flexibility must be especially high? Andrew Napier: Flexibility is crucial. The students aren’t always right there in front of you, so it’s important that collaboration between students, team coaches, parents and teachers is good. Whenever the students are abroad, gathering experience with a foreign football club, for instance, we have to ensure that their academic education does not suffer. That’s why the students are visited regularly by teachers and why they are in daily contact with the Academy and the teachers in Doha via the internet. In this context we are also investing in the technology to make communication as simple as possible. Ahmed Hussain: That also makes it important that we are always available, should they need help with a school-related problem. Is this personal support one of the secrets to the success of the Academy?

Besides these tools, Aspire Academy’s broad network must also be very useful to the students? Andrew Napier: Of course, and on many levels. Our graduates are role models and by giving their successors tips they can be of enormous help. This is also the reason why we invite them back to the Academy on various occasions. That’s also the purpose of the Alumni Club. Ahmed Hussain: Our students also benefit from the Academy’s general network. For instance the members of the Board of Trustees can help when it comes to networking. At the end of the day, Aspire Academy is one big family and we look after each other.

our students have to strive to never stop learning their entire lifetime. So they’ll be able to really grasp and appreciate anything.

Andrew Napier: Of course it’s very important to deal with students individually. They have to strive to never stop learning their entire lifetime. This is the only way they’ll be able to really grasp and appreciate anything. Ahmed Hussain: Our aim is to produce people capable of rising to the challenges of life and seizing the initiative. They need to be leaders. Discipline, organisation and time management are skills that every athlete needs in order to achieve greatness and we have set ourselves the goal of turning our students into leaders. These are tools they can use anywhere. That’s why we place such a premium on teaching these skills and why we have the “Leadership Development Programme”.

How is the Academy’s work perceived externally? Do you think that the Academy ranks highly in Qatar and internationally?

Andrew Napier: People have been surprised that it’s not just our staff who are very international, but our students as well; we also have scholarship students from places like Yemen and Indonesia. But Aspire Academy is undoubtedly an institution that all of Qatar are incredibly proud of. The majority of players on national youth teams come from Aspire Academy, and whenever they play in tournaments abroad, they are ambassadors not just for us but for all of Qatar. Ahmed Hussain: That’s why their success is also celebrated nationally. The Academy is well respected internationally as well, because our students exemplify the virtues of the Academy and do a good job of representing us.



London Athletes have to set clear goals



hanks to its global network, Aspire Academy has direct access to an enormous wealth of knowledge and insight. On this occasion we had the opportunity to chat with the British sport administrator Baroness Sue Campbell. Somebody who knows quite well about the importance of sport for young people and what it takes to develop champions like they do at Aspire Academy.

At the 1996 Olympic Games, Britain won 15 medals, including a solitary gold, and finished 36th in the medal table. In 2012 “Team GB� won 65 medals, including 29 gold, when London hosted the Games. To what extent was this the result of your work as Chairman of UK Sport? UK Sport is the organisation responsible for investing government and lottery funding into our

world-class Olympic and Paralympic sportsmen and -women. I became Chair in September 2003. The arrival of lottery money in 1997 had made a big difference to our medal count and we were 10th in the Olympic medal table in Sydney and Athens and 2nd in the Paralympic table. The challenge we set ourselves was to move to 4th in the Olympic medal table and retain our place in the Paralympic table. This was not simply a matter of money but would involve a significant change of policy and culture. My role was to ensure that the governance of UKS was of the highest standard and that we recruited the right team of people. The success was down to a number of factors but there is no doubt that our tough, no compromise approach to investment, combined with highly talented colleagues, created the step change we wanted. Your goal was to produce the best highperformance sports system in the world.

Susan Catherine Campbell Baroness Campbell of Loughborough, CBE, was born on October 10, 1948, and is a British sports administrator who has been Chairman of UK Sport since 2003. She pursued a career in education before she fully turned to sports administration in 1980, holding positions as Chief Executive of the National Coaching Foundation and Chief Executive of the Youth Sport Trust, where she played a key role in setting up the national charity. She also worked as an adviser to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Education and Skills. 30


Your ten-year-long tenure brought significant changes to UK Sport that turned out to be very successful. Do you think that you have achieved your initial goal? If not, what countries are still role models for you and why? We set out to be the best that we could be as a nation and I believe we made great progress. However, there is always a great deal to learn from other countries and we continue to be open to new ideas. In the Rio cycle we are working even harder on coaching, talent pathways and research and innovation. Every country has different strengths but the key is to be able to adapt what works in another country to fit your own culture and values.

“Sport for All” used to be the motto of the Sports Council of Great Britain, the predecessor of UK Sport. How important is sport for society? In 1996 the Sports Council of GB split into two bodies – UK Sport, responsible for the worldclass sport system, anti-doping and international development, and Sport England, responsible for participation and community sport. Sport has the power to change lives. It can have a major impact on physical and emotional health, academic results and the social and moral development of young people.

Sport can have a major impact on physical and emotional health, academic results and the social and moral development of young people.

What do you think has been the most important change you have made? There have been many changes to the governance of UKS and a sharpening of the focus and mission of the organisation. However, the important cultural change across the system was created by a “no compromise” investment strategy. This meant that funding was no longer a right for the National Governing Bodies of sport (NGBs) but something they had to earn by driving the delivery of results. The investment was focused on those athletes nominated by their NGB who could achieve success in the next Games (4 years away) and those working to achieve success in the following Games (8 years away).

Before breaking into sports administration you pursued a career in education as a PE teacher, then sports science lecturer. How do you see the connection between education and sports? I have worked for over 40 years in physical education and sport. For much of that time I have focused on using sport to improve young people’s life skills. The Youth Sport Trust (YST) was established in 1995 to work in schools to improve physical education and school sport. I was its first CEO and have been the Chair of the YST since 2005. We have worked in both primary (5–11 years) and secondary (11–18 years) education and we have a bank of evidence that shows that when PE and sport are taught or coached well they have a significant impact on academic results, attendance and behaviour in schools.


What is the best way to interest children in sports and get them involved? Young people need to develop an understanding that physical activity is critical to their physical and emotional well-being and, in turn, to their success in life. It is important to acknowledge that young people will have a range of interests and motivations to get involved in sport. As well as providing traditional sports, it is important to offer a wide range of options, including a chance to develop personal fitness, to experience outdoor and adventure sports, to take part in dance and to play with friends in an informal setting. What turns athletes into role models for young people? The reason athletes make good role models is that the journey they go on to achieve their success is full of important lessons for life. Athletes have to set clear goals, be self-motivated, deal with setbacks, overcome self doubt, prioritise, plan and work as part of a team. There are many athletes working in the UK who are contributing to the development of young people because their stories are so powerful and show that success is a matter of hard work, dedication and determination.

and life. What do you think about this approach? Every country has developed its own unique elite sport programme. What we know is that to produce world-class athletes, we need to ensure there is a centralised training venue where athletes access all the facilities, coaching and support services they need. But it is equally important that we take care of their education and lifestyle so that once they have finished competing, they have the skills to achieve in life as well as in sport. How did the London 2012 Olympics change the country and how did the city benefit from this big event? London 2012 was one of the most special moments in the nation’s rich history. It was a time when people came together to recognise and enjoy all we are as a nation. The quality of the facilities, the transport system, the exceptional volunteers and the outstanding performances of our athletes combined to create a unique celebration of Britain. London benefited economically but just as importantly it built a new pride in Londoners because they had been the centre of such a special international spectacle.

The reason athletes make good role models is that the journey they go on to achieve their success is full of important lessons for life.

How important is elite sport to grassroots sport? Elite sport and mass participation are inextricably linked. Watching people achieve their dreams on the sporting stage can inspire a generation of young people to choose sport. The key is to be able to turn the inspiration into participation through great teachers and coaches. Sport provides a theatre in which we see all human emotions – good and bad – and we can use those to educate, inform and excite.

Emotions were also shown by Qatari Mutaz Barshim when he won bronze at the Olympics 2012. He is a graduate of Aspire Academy, which seeks to develop champions in sports


You were recently quoted as saying, “I really believe sport changes lives.” How did it change yours? And can sport not only change individuals, but entire nations? Sport has given me an enormous number of opportunities and has had a massive impact on my life. It has helped me to develop socially, academically, psychologically and personally. I believe that sport is one of the most powerful tools we possess to inspire individuals and nations to strive to be the best that they can be. To maximise the impact of sport on individuals and on a nation requires good national strategies, strong leadership and high quality individuals working in the sporting system.

Back in

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A SPRINGBOARD TO DREAMS welcome to Eupen! a small town in belgium, that has become a major step in the development of aspire’s football talents.



nthony Bassey shoots, glances up, watche s t h e o p p o n e n t s’ g o a l i e s t re t c h f o r the ball ... and miss. The net billows, the 19-year-old Nigerian raises his arms and does the aeroplane celebration. It’s not long before team-mate Alassane Diallo from Mali flings his arms around his neck and Belgian Nils Schouterden claps him on the shoulder in recognition of a job well done. The team celebrating a 3-0 lead against Boussu Dour in the Belgian second division is no ordinary team – it is one of the cornerstones of Aspire Academy’s unique football training programme. QATARI AMBITIONS FOR SMALL BELGIAN CLUB When the Aspire Zone Foundation became the new owner of KAS Eupen in June 2012, the initial response from the city on the German-Belgian border, population 18,000, was reserved. But the foreign investor from distant Qatar was soon recognised as a highly professional partner – one who laid solid foundations for future success, modernised the structure and organisation of the club, quickly earned trust by honouring current contracts and bolstered the team by recruiting a raft of new players who had previously been part of the “Aspire Football Dreams” programme in Senegal (see article in CHAMP 02/13) or had been trained at Aspire Academy. Christoph Henkel, Executive Director of KAS Eupen: “We

KAS Eupen Executive Director Christoph Henkel is happy about the progress that has been made since the start of the project in 2012.

made a conscious effort to quickly integrate the club, its players and the idea behind the project into the city. It was a huge advantage that the young lads had already learnt how to embrace other cultures as part of their education at Aspire.” Only the Belgian weather – frequent rain, even the hottest summer days seldom exceed 30 degrees, and in winter the temperature can drop to minus ten – was found to be a little hostile by the newcomers. Apart from the external conditions, everything else at KAS Eupen conforms to the Aspire philosophy of educating champions in sport and in life. “This is the next stage in the training of our young players. The perfect opportunity to make the jump from junior to adult football and to learn what it means in a practical sense to be a professional player.”

It was a huge advantage that the young lads had already learnt how to embrace other cultures as part of their education at Aspire.

Stress test Eupen is also a launching pad for younger players into the top tiers of European football. Henkel, former head of the junior academy of German Bundesliga club 1. FC Köln, knows what it takes: “Many players dream of a great career. But only a few can make that dream come true. Talent and football skills alone are not enough. Young players, with the ambition to make it in professional football and the dream to represent their home countries at the World Cup 2022 in Qatar.” Over the next few years the plan in Eupen is for both the players as well as the team itself to develop: the medium-term goal is promotion to the Belgian first division. Which in the past few years has emerged as a breeding ground for players destined for top European, mostly English, clubs: Romelu Lukaku plays for FC Everton, Marounane Fellaini joined Manchester United, while Eden Hazard was 35

© Frinck51, Private collection

signed by FC Chelsea. The timing for a move to Belgium also seems perfect for another reason: the national team of the Kingdom of Belgium, population 11 million, are the rising stars of European football and qualified in style for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Eleven nations in 27-man squad “In the first season in 2012-13, many of the young players were focused on getting some experience of professional football under their belts. They had to integrate from a sporting, cultural and personal perspective – and as 18-year-olds the learning curve was, of course, steep. Overall it was nice to see them gradually coming to terms with their role as professional football players,” says Henkel, who had another mixed bag of cultures on his hands in the second season as well: twelve players come from six African nations. The 27-man squad encompasses a total of eleven nations – including Qatar. English is spoken, but there is a mixture of French, German and Spanish. The latter isn’t just because of the roots of the coaching team led by head coach Bartolomé Marquez Lopez. For the current season the team has been bolstered by a number of experienced players such as striker Manuel Exposito Pressegua (formerly of Auckland City) and Juan Ochoa (FC Orihuela). Josep Colomer, the man credited with the discovery  of FC Barcelona star Lionel  Messi, is not only responsible for the sporting side, he is also technically responsible for of the Aspire Football Dreams programme – which makes sense; after all, several talented players from Africa are being given the chance to prove themselves in the pressurised environment of professional European football in Eupen.

Living the Aspire philosophy It goes without saying that the academic side is not ignored in Eupen. “Some of the young players are, at 18 years, still in education. It’s important to us that they graduate,” explains Henkel. “Etienne Wala Zock, for instance, flew to Doha for an exam during the season.” As in Qatar, education in Belgium does not end for Aspire students with the final school exam. Stefan Wetzel started his job as the new Manager for Education and Life Skills with the club on September 1. Following his stint in Doha he has now been tasked with developing a training programme for the Belgian club designed to enable players to pursue an education in parallel to sport. “Whether students are striving for qualifications, school leaving certificates, certificates of access to higher education or learning a new language, we will do our best to support them,” stresses Wetzel. In the second season, the city of Eupen is already identifying with this unique programme: “1,500 to 2,000 spectators per home game isn’t bad for a city with only 18,000 inhabitants,” says a delighted Executive Director Henkel. “We are regarded in the community, the economy and politics as a reliable partner.” And given the sporting results, there is every reason to be optimistic: after finishing eighth in their first season, KAS Eupen has been right up there since the start of this season. Secretly many are already dreaming of promotion – and in Eupen dreaming of success is something that is absolutely encouraged.

Some of the young players are, at 18 years, still in education. It’s important to us that they graduate.


The picturesque Belgian town of Eupen has already become a stepping stone for many players from Aspire Academy and Aspire Football Dreams.


EMAIL HOME by Muaaz Yehya Al Salmi and Jassim Mohad Abdulazeez Abood The Aspire Academy football players reveal what life with FC Red Bull Salzburg is like in their temporary sporting home of Austria.



The coaching team is very motivated, they look at every player individually.

FC Red Bull Salzburg The professional Austrian football club located in the picturesque city of Salzburg is part of “RB Soccer”, one of the world’s biggest football organisations. “RB Soccer”, which is owned by the Red Bull company, puts a high focus on the development of young players, has invested a lot of money in youth academies and also runs football programmes in the USA, Germany and Brazil. B e s i d e s R e d B u l l S a l z b u rg , the global organisation owns three more professional football clubs: New York Red Bulls, Red Bull Brazil and RB Leipzig. The German club is currently paying in the 3 rd division and is seen as a location of the future – with a stadium for 44.000 and the ambition to play in the German Bundesliga as soon as possible.


Hi everyone, Our adventure began at the end of October: we made the trip to Salzburg together with our team guide Isa. Salzburg is a city in Austria, famous the world over for its cultural heritage. But more on that later. For us it’s all about football, of course, because we’ll be part of the U-18 team of FC Red Bull Salzburg. They are Austria’s top club, where working with young players is taken very seriously. That was obvious straight away. We were welcomed to the ultra-modern training centre by Academy coach Henrik Pedersen from Denmark and were made to feel at home in the team from the very first training session. The youth team is a mixture of players from different countries. The coaching team is very motivated, they look at every player individually, and the training programme is very diverse. We focus on standards, then tactics, then there’s another session in the gym. But we have the most fun, of course, when we’re allowed to play football. And we can do that, too. We train twice a day, sometimes very early because most of the players have to go to school afterwards. And so do we – a teacher from Doha is always with us on site, and we keep in constant touch with the Aspire Academy teachers via Skype. Although we haven’t been here in Salzburg very long, we have already made friends with some of our teammates. It helps, of course, that like us, many of the Academy players are staying at the Kolping Hostel Salzburg. Fortunately most of the other players speak good English too, so there are no communication problems. At the same time we are also learning a little German – we already know how to say “please” – “bitte” – and “thank you” – “danke”. ;-) What did surprise us, though, is how cold it is. The winter here is very cold, temperatures can drop as low as minus 10! Luckily the club equipped us for winter straight away. We also have bikes, which is practical, because the city isn’t very big. There are around 150,000 people living here and you can get from A to B very quickly. One place that impressed us straight away was the club’s home ground – the Red Bull Arena with a capacity of 32,000. The club is having a very strong season internationally this year. In the UEFA Europa League, Red Bull Salzburg finished the group phase in first place. What else can we tell you? Salzburg’s old town is superb – as well as some cool shops and nice restaurants there are a lot of historical sights. We’ve already visited the birthplace of the famous composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, which was quite impressive. The city also has a great ambience, being set in the mountains, one of which – the Gaisberg – we already climbed one afternoon we had free. The view of the city from up there was just amazing! So far it has been a great experience for us and we are sure that our time here will help us to become better football players and broaden our horizon. There’ll be more from us soon, when you’ll be able to get a picture of our early days in Salzburg from a video we’ll be making. Regards from Salzburg! Muaaz & Jassim senD message


Our time here will help us to become better football players and broaden our horizon.


most of the other players speak good English, so there are no communication problems.



my doha

A short sightseeing trip courtesy of international tour guides: members of the Aspire Academy staff reveal their FAVOURITE spots in Doha.

“One of my favourite places in Qatar is the old Souq Waqif. Every time I go there I feel the authenticity and originality of the place, you can see kind local faces, smell the spices and the scent of the perfumes.� Vasiliki Topalidou from Greece is Head of Events & Partnerships Aspire Active and has worked at Aspire Academy for five and a half years. 44

qif a W q u o S


“The friendly atmosphere is one of the reasons why my family and I like to visit Katara. On the one hand it’s a quiet place and on the other hand you can also participate in the cultural events on offer. Katara is great for our tourism and we are really proud of it.” Abdulrahman Hassan Al-Mulla was born in Qatar and is Head of Recruitment at Aspire Academy.


“My favorite place in Qatar is Katara – the cultural village. It’s the largest and the most multidimensional cultural project of Qatar, radiating in the Middle East through theatre, literature, music, visual art, conventions and exhibitions. It is a place where people come together to experience the cultures of the world. With beautiful theatres, concert halls, exhibition galleries and cutting-edge facilities, it is Katara’s aim to become a world leader in multicultural activities. Katara is a place where people share cultures to nurture understanding and peace.” Luminita Madescu from Romania has worked as Travel Coordinator at Aspire Academy for four and a half years.

Katara 45

“I really love the Corniche. It’s just the perfect place for a nice, relaxing walk and the landscape of the lagoon is actually quite beautiful as well.”


© Sodabottle

Fara Akanni from Nigeria has worked as Document Control Officer at Aspire Academy since 2012.

The Corniche

“I love to walk by the Corniche early on Friday mornings. The silence and the view are incredible. The first time I saw it I was impressed and I thought I was right in the middle of tradition and the future. Dhows and skyscrapers, old people and kids … The Museum of Islamic Art and green gardens next to fishing boats … It is a place that I have visited many times and where I used to go with friends on their first visit to Doha. It’s the perfect location to chat and relax while having a nice walk and you can get an idea of what the city has to offer.” Esperanza Campuzano from Spain has been part of Aspire Academy’s Public Relations team for a year.

“One of my first memories when settling in Doha was taking a walk along the Corniche with my family. As well as the natural beauty of the place, the contrast of old and new as you look across traditional dhow boats to the new city skyline is a unique site and one that makes you appreciate the ambitions of the State and where it has come from in a relatively short period of time. And coming from Australia I am used to being surrounded by the sea.” Stephen Bourke from Australia has been Manager in Planning & Quality Management at Aspire Academy and Aspire Zone for six years.

The Corniche 46


“Khor Al-Adaid, which many also call ‘the Inland Sea’, fills me with awe. The first time I was there I found it beyond comparison, beyond description; absolutely unparalleled throughout the world. I have had great experiences every single time I’ve visited it.”

aid Khor Al-Ad

Juan Luis Delgado Bordonau from Spain has worked as Football Scout Coordinator at Aspire Academy for six and a half years.

“Doha is desert, sand, heat and blue sea. In the Inland Sea you get these four things at one. The silence surrounds you and the feeling of expanse and freedom fills your heart. The Arab imagery from ’One Thousand and One Nights’ fills your mind. Tents all around bursting with spicy and exotic flavours, slow-moving camels staring at you. Welcoming people. This is the desert I love. Just get a driver and let him take you up and down the dunes without a goal … just get lost in the sand and swim in the purest and most colourful ocean.” Francesca Camerano from Italy has worked as Marketing & Event Specialist at Aspire Academy since 2013.

Khor Al-Adaid 47

Al kass international cup 2014




The elite of youth football are back in Doha: FROM JANUARY 13 TO 23 the Al Kass International Cup brings the best UNDER-16 PLAYERS from the best teams in the world to Qatar. A chance to see future stars in action while allowing the boys of Aspire Academy to compete at the highest level possible.



or the third year in a row Al Kass, together with Aspire Zone Foundation (Aspire) and Qatar Football Association (QFA), present Qatar’s Al Kass International Cup for teams with players under the age of 16. This football cup represents the future of football, as it is about the youth, the stars of tomorrow, and about football expanding its seasons to Qatar and the surrounding region. This event is an investment in the future of Qatar’s football and another chance for Doha to propel itself into the sphere of the leading sports capitals of the world. Penalty Drama Fluminense were crowned Al Kass International Cup champions in 2013 as they beat Paris Saint-Germain on penalties. Gabriel Silva tucked away the vital spot-kick to claim a 4-2 win, sparking wild scenes of celebration around Aspire's football pitches. Despite the loss in the final of 2013, Paris Saint-Germain still remains the most successful team, having won it in 2012 with a final triumph over the Italian side Juventus FC. French record breaker The tournament has proven to be a stage for talented players to showcase their skill and get noticed by coaches and international scouts. Kingsley Coman is the perfect example: The former Al Kass-participant made his debut in the French league as the youngest player in the history of Paris Saint-Germain.


When the midfielder was brought on in the 3-2 loss to Sochaux in February 2013 he was just 16 years, 8 months and 4 days old and broke the record held by Nicolas Anelka. The next PRODIGY Another player that made an impact at the first Al Kass International Cup was the Brazilian player Kenedy. The now 17-year-old already made first team appearances for Fluminense in 2013 and has attracted interest from big names in Europe. Kenedy is being touted as the next big thing to come out of Brazil after leading the Seleção youth side to the Under-17 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates. Final Results 2013 1st Fluminense 2nd Paris Saint-Germain 3rd Boca Juniors Final Results 2012 1st Paris Saint- Germain 2nd Juventus 3rd Ajax

About Al kass Al Kass is an Arabic-speaking satellite sports channel located in Doha – Qatar that is broadcast twenty-four hours a day on several different television satellites. It covers international sport news & events with an added focus on football in Qatar and the GCC. Al Kass is the official broadcast channel of the Qatar Football Stars League (QSL), Qatar Stars Cup (QSC) and was the host broadcaster of the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2011. In addition, the channel covers other major regional & international sports events like the Gulf Cup & the AFC Champions League. Al Kass is one of the top-rated sports channels in Qatar and most of the GCC, as well as the fastest-growing sports channel in the Middle East.

CHASING DREAMS See the stars of tomorrow

CHICAGO FIRE USA Club History: Chicago Fire Soccer Club is an American professional football club that competes in the MLS (Major League Soccer). The club was named after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and was founded on October 8, 1997, the date of the event's 126th anniversary. Titles: MLS Cup 1, US Open Cup 4, Supporters’ Shield 1 Star players: Mike Magee, Bakary Soumaré

Fluminense FC Brazil

Great teams, thrilling games, talented players, awesome atmosphere. That’s what you can expect from the third edition of the Al Kass International Cup. Two teams of Aspire Academy are going to face the elite of their age group. Talented players that dream of one day following in the footsteps of their clubs’ first team stars such as Lionel Messi, Zlatan Ibrahimovic or Cristiano Ronaldo. Let’s take a look at the history of the participating clubs.

Manchester City F.C. England

Club History: Fluminense Football Club is a professional Brazilian football club based in Rio de Janeiro. It was founded in 1902 and plays in the Campeonato Carioca, the State of Rio de Janeiro’s premier state league, as well as the Brasileirão, the top tier of the Brazilian football league system.

Club History: Manchester City Football Club is an English Premier League football club that was founded in 1880. The club was purchased by Abu Dhabi United Group in 2008 and became one of the wealthiest in the world. Its Premier League title in 2012 was the first league title in 44 years.

Titles: Brasileirão 4, Campeonato Carioca 31

Titles: Premier League 3, FA Cup 5, Football League Cup 2, UEFA Cup Winner’s Cup 1

Star players: Jean, Carlinhos

Star players: David Silva, Sergio Agüero

FC Porto Portugal Club History: Futebol Clube do Porto, commonly known as FC Porto is a Portuguese multi-sports club from the city of Porto that was founded in Porto in 1893. FC Porto became the second team in the history of the Primeira Liga to twice complete an entire 30 game season unbeaten (2010–11 and 2012–13).

Real Madrid C.F. Spain Club History: Real Madrid Club de Fútbol is a professional Spanish football club that was founded in 1902. The club has played its home matches in the 85,454-capacity Santiago Bernabéu Stadium since 1947 and is the world’s richest football club in terms of revenue.

Titles: Primeira Liga 27, UEFA Champions League 2, UEFA Europa League 2, UEFA Cup 1, UEFA Super Cup 1

Titles: La Liga 32, Copas del Rey 18, UEFA Champions League 9, Intercontinental Cups 3, UEFA Cups 2, UEFA Super Cup 1

Star players: Jackson Martinez, Eliaquim Mangala

Star players: Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale

Aspire Qatar Host team 1

A.C. Milan Italy Club History: Associazione Calcio Milan, commonly referred to as A.C. Milan, is a professional Italian football club that was founded in 1899. It is the most successful club in world football in terms of international trophies with 18 officially recognised UEFA and FIFA titles. Titles: Serie A 18, FIFA Club World Cup 1, UEFA Champions League 7, UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup 2, UEFA Super Cup 5 Star players: Mario Balotelli, Kaka

Kashiwa Reysol Japan Club History: Kashiwa Reysol is a professional Japanese football club that was formed in 1940. Reysol were founding members of Japan Soccer League in 1965 and have spent the majority of their existence in the top tier of Japanese football. Titles: J. League 2, Emperor’s Cup 3, J. League Cup 3, Super Cup 1 Star players: Leandro Domingues, Masato Kudo

FC Barcelona Spain Club History: Founded in 1899 by a group of Swiss, English and Catalan footballers led by Joan Gamper, the club has become a symbol of Catalan culture and Catalanism, hence its motto “More than a club”. FC Barcelona is the most successful club in Spain in terms of overall official titles won (83). Titles: La Liga 22, Copa del Rey 26, UEFA Champions League 4, UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup 4, UEFA Super Cup 4 Star players: Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta

AJ Auxerre France

Paris Saint-Germain France

Club History: Association de la Jeunesse Auxerroise is a French association football club that was founded in 1905 and currently plays in Ligue 2, the second division of French football. It made its debut in the first division of French football in the 1980–81 season and has remained a fixture in the league until 2011–12 season.

Club History: Paris Saint-Germain Football Club, also known simply as Paris Saint-Germain. The club was founded in 1970, thanks to the merger of Paris FC and Stade Saint-Germain. PSG has been playing in the Ligue 1 since 1974, the current championship record, and is one of the most prestigious outfits in French football.

Titles: League championship 1, Coupe de France 4

Titles: League championship 3, French Cup 8, UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup 1

Star players: Paul-Georges Ntep, Willy Boly

Star players: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Motta

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the people we welcome at aspire academy have one thing in common. they are individuals that have always reached for the stars and Their success stories have the power to inspire others. 01 Andrew Amonde 02 Dikembe Mutombo 03 “Cafu” Marcos Evangelista de Moraes 04 Ángel María Villar 05 Princess Ameera Al-Taweel





06 07 08 09 10

Florentino Pérez Mahinda Rajapaksa Anthony Joshua Lorrie Fair Danny Williams


dreams do come true. these people are the living proof. Aspire Academy.

In the nexT edition of CHAMP March 2014 HOME BASE RIBERY & CO In January 2014 a number of top international clubs will be setting up camp at Aspire Academy. Defending Champions League title holders Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain and Red Bull Salzburg will be in Doha to prepare for the start of the spring season.

EDUCATION School of Excellence Aspire Academy puts a strong focus on the academic achievements and personal development of its students. In the upcoming issue of CHAMP we focus on the academy’s recipe for the leaders of tomorrow.

ImprINT Publisher: Aspire Academy; Contact: Aspire Academy PO Box 22287, Doha – Qatar,; Project Management: Kern Kompetenzen GmbH; Editorial Consulting: Union Wagner, Sport Plus PR; Graphics and Layout: ideenwerk gmbh; Print: ASPIRE Printing Press © 2013: The entire contents of this publication are protected by copyright. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means: electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher. © 2013 Aspire Academy, Doha, Qatar. CHAMP is published quarterly unless stated otherwise by Aspire Academy. Aspire Academy is not liable for the accuracy or completeness of the information in this publication. The opinions expressed in all articles published in CHAMP are those of the authors. Similarly, the publication of advertisements does not represent any form of endorsement of the product or service being promoted by the advertiser by Aspire Academy.


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