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Our Talent Identification (TID) Program is a nationwide initiative to propel the State of Qatar onto the international sporting arena. Working in close coordination with the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the Qatar National Olympic Committee and the Supreme Education Council (SEC), our primary goal is to find students within Qatar schools that exhibit exceptional athletic talent and offer them a student-athlete scholarship within Aspire Academy.

The program, overseen by Aspire Academy’s sports scientists, has assessed in excess of 38,000 talents from the Qatar primary schools system as well as those talents nominated by the various Qatar Sports Federations since its inception in 2004. Utilizing a combination of statistical physical performance data, predictive models and most importantly coach feedback the programs fundamental objective is to screen and identify as much sporting talent as possible.

Regardless of where the boys originate from, all boys undergo a strict three-tiered selection process:

 

  • Phase 1, or the Bronze phase, is a mass screening process that consists of simple, yet valid and reliable, tests to evaluate a student’s body shape and physical ability. During this phase, TID works very closely with the SEC and conducts testing of Grade 6 students in all government schools across Qatar. Those students who have been ‘identified’ with potential are then invited to participate in the second, or Silver phase.

  • Phase 2, the Silver phase, is held at Aspire Academy and is similar in structure to Bronze. While Silver is held in a more competitive environment, greater emphasis is placed on the accuracy of the tests, and the students are exposed to our coaches, as well as additional tasks. The Silver phase is also where those talents nominated by the Sports Federations and our coaches are also tested. Silver hopes to identify those ‘gifted sporting traits’ within an individual.

  • The final Phase is the Gold phase and consists of a two-day mini-camp, again hosted at the Aspire Academy. Gold is designed to be ‘observational’ in nature, where the students perform and train in a typical athletic environment. In doing so, we hope to learn more about the individual, and concentrate on their physical talent, skill, work ethic, ability to learn, attention span, team dynamic etc. While during Gold we have the best ‘potential sporting talent’ within Qatar, the goal of the camp is to assess those students who have the desire and the work ethic to succeed. At the conclusion of Gold, the best potential sporting talent, with the focus and desire to achieve a sporting dream, are nominated for full Aspire Academy scholarships.

Why TID as a selection process?

Top performances in sports are achieved after a lengthy training period of several years. It is widely believed that a minimum of 10 years (roughly 10,000 hours) of training are required to master a sport.

For most sports, elite level performances occur between the ages of 22 and 28; with the exceptions being gymnastics, swimming and a few others. Thus talents need to start official organized training between the ages of 12 and 14. But how can we determine who will be a champion in 10 years? This could possibly be the most difficult question to answer in sports. We hope to be more educated about talent identification through the Academy’s TID program.

The most common recruitment tool used in most countries is competition. Competition provides a form of “natural selection” inherent to the sport participation process where the athletic “cream” rises to the top. This natural selection process however, relies on the identification of athletes already participating in the sports. It also relies on a large population base to increase the level of competition. Unfortunately, natural selection does not seek out athletes with untapped or unrecognized talent. Therefore, many of the successful athletes around the world are those that happened to find a sport that suited their talents. Thus, the selection and participation of these athletes in their sport occurred more by chance, rather than by guidance.

TID program on the other hand, attempts to find the talent and then guide them to the best sports where their talents are most suited. In this way young potential athletes can be guided towards disciplines where they will receive a maximum return for the efforts they put into the sport and avoid the frustration of poor performances in sports for which they are less suited. Talent identification programs are also well suited to countries with smaller populations because these societies cannot afford to waste any talent that they might possess.

Major Talent Identification Projects

  • Long term Athlete and pre-adolescent growth patterns
  • Maturation
  • Anthropometric and physical characteristics between Middle East populations

Expertise

Andrew Douglas

Talent Identification Program Coordinator

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