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"PLAYING IS THE MOST IMPORTANT LEARNING APPROACH"

10 May 2018, General

Doha, 10 May 2018. Last week, Aspire Academy concluded the final round of the year-long Tri-Series football tournament for the 2017/2018 season, culminating in a year of global competitions that saw participation from more than 1,200 of the best footballers from across Asia, Africa, Europe and South America. The final round saw the Academy’s football teams face visitors from the U14 and U16 Tunisian and Iranian national youth teams in the same age-groups.

Commenting on the conclusion of this year’s season, Edorta Murua, Technical Football Director at Aspire Academy, said: “Aspire Academy’s main goal from this tournament is the long-term development of its individual football players. Playing is, of course, the most important learning approach for our players and we try to give them as much playing time as possible. The “Tri-Series” exposes them on a regular basis to international opponents and allows them to test themselves against different playing styles, philosophies and models from all over the world. It is one piece of the puzzle that should help our players develop a deeper understanding of the sport, because it is important that players are flexible and can think outside the box. No matter what challenges they face, they should be able to adapt and overcome these obstacles.”

“What differentiates our players from others is the way they look at situations and the decisions they make and how they are able to make a successful transition from youth to professional football.  To reach that goal, the Tri-Series is a valuable tool that teaches them a lot about decision making,” Aspire Academy’s Murua added.

The football programme of Aspire Academy is recognised as one of the strongest in the world in terms of detection and selection of talent, as well as training, competition and evaluation of each player. The nurturing of players starts years before they reach the age to join the Academy as high school student-athletes.

Aspire Academy has installed “Football Skills Development Centers” (FSDC) throughout Doha for boys between 6 and 11 years of age. From the age of 8 years the most promising boys are identified to join the “Aspire Feeder Groups” in which they are prepared to join the Academy.

The training philosophy of the Academy is tailored to the capabilities, talents and goals of Qatar as a footballing nation and follows a strategy that is geared towards the development of the individual player, who should be able to know what the game demands in any given situation.

Speaking about the selection criteria for visiting teams that travel to Doha to take part, Stephan Hildebrandt, Manager of Football Operations at Aspire Academy, said: “Our objective it to provide our student-athletes with a competitive environment which lets us test out different types of playing styles, so each week, we look to bring one team from each continent.”

Speaking about the benefit of the tournament, he added: “Football is an instrument to develop football personalities beyond cultural and religious differences. Qatar and especially Aspire Academy is a place where kids regardless of their cultural or religious background come together and compete on the same level, through various occasion such as the Tri-Series competitions. When we started four years ago, it was challenging to get the clubs to participate, now we have a waiting list. Some of the biggest clubs in the world reach out to us regularly asking to be invited so it’s growing in popularity.”

He added that: “By confronting the big teams regularly, the Tri-Series tournament has helped our student-athletes not be intimidated by any big names. We have succeeded in creating a spirit of confidence among our boys in this way. The games create moments for the players where they themselves are forced to make decisions, and these moments cannot be simulated as well in training. These moments of responsibility, of pressure, of decision making prepare our boys in all aspects — psychologically, technically, tactically and physically. These moments of shouldering responsibility are priceless.”

This year’s competitions saw participation of local, regional and international clubs from African, European, Asian and South American countries. Some of these include Tunisian national youth team players, as well as football cub Étoile Sportive du Sahel, Spanish club Celta de Vigo, Aspire-owned Cultural y Deportiva Leonesa, Dutch club AZ Alkmaar, German club Eintracht Frankfurt, English club Leeds United F.C., Cyprus club Apoel, F.C. Ecuadorian club C.S.D. Independiente del Valle, Pakistani club Karachi United as well as Japanese clubs Ventforet Kofu and Shonan Bellmare. The tournament also welcomed national team players across various age-groups from Tunisia, Malaysia, Lebanon and Iran.

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