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02 Nov 2017, General

Doha, 2 November 2017. This week’s “Tri-Series Tournament” brought the U16, U17 and U18 teams of the Lebanese Football Association and of the Dutch “Eredivisie” team AZ Alkmaar to Doha in order to compete with Aspire Academy’s youth teams. Thereby, Aspire’s 2001 generation secured victory in the U17 category by winning both of their games, while the teams from the Netherlands triumphed with their U16s and U18s ahead of the Qatari talents.

“One of the main objectives of this tournament is that our players learn to deal with different situations and to transfer what they practice in the training sessions onto the pitch. It was great to compete with Lebanon, since it’s a team from our area, and with a well-known youth academy from Europe to see how far our boys are able to go when it comes to their competition level,” said Edorta Murua, Technical Football Director at Aspire Academy. “We did well against Lebanon, the games against Alkmaar were more demanding and gave us a good competition. The important thing at this stage is not so much the result, but that our players see that they are able to compete against the best academies in Europe or Asia. That is very important for their development.”

Also for the visiting teams, the tournament turned out to be a rewarding experience. “It’s very important to face teams from different football cultures and to be exposed to different styles. The perfect environment also gave us the opportunity to prepare for the games in a very professional way and we were impressed by the passion and individual skills of Aspire’s players. The games in Doha were a good lesson for our players how it is to compete in an environment they are not used to and we took every game very serious,” said Marijn Thijmen Beuker, Head of Performance & Development at AZ Alkmaar.

Among the interested spectators of this edition, was also one of the big names in world football. Ruud Gullit, former striker at AC Milan and captain of the Dutch national team, was spotted in the stands watching his son playing for AZ Alkmaar’s U17 team. Maxim Gullit enjoyed playing at Aspire: “Tournaments like these give players the opportunity to shine and make people recognize you and talk about you. They help you to get better and that’s where my focus is. To work hard every day and constantly improve.”

“We are very grateful for the invitation to come here, it was a great possibility for our newly formed youth national teams to make a further step in their development and for the players to grow together as a team. The level of the competition in Doha was very high and despite the results, we could show at some points of the games that we were able to compete with our strong opponents”, commented Bassem Mohamad, Head of the Lebanese delegation, on the time spent at Aspire Academy.



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