Doha, 26 June 2018. Aspire Academy celebrated the graduation of its biggest batch of student-athletes to date, including 42 graduates who specialised in athletics, gymnastics, football, football refereeing, fencing, squash, shooting and table tennis. The graduation crowns Aspire Academy’s efforts over the past 11 years and commitment to support Qatar’s significant developments in the sports field.
This year’s graduates now join a long list of local sports stars, some of whom have achieved international-acclaim in their respective fields, including Mutaz Barshim, Akram Afif, Ashraf El-Seify, Fahad Al Abdulrahman, Abubaker Haydar, Ahmed Bedir Magour, Abdullah Al-Tamimi, Almoez Ali and many others.
This year’s class brings the total number of Aspire Academy graduates to 363 full of talent and promise. Some of them have already proven themselves in various local and international sports competitions as they brought back gold, silver, and bronze medals to Qatar and were crowned championships at various tournaments.
Some of these include Aspire Academy’s current graduate, Moaaz Ibrahim, one of the most promising young athletes. He has recently returned from the Asian Junior Athletics Championships, which was held in Japan, with two medals – one gold and another silver in shot put and discus throw respectively. He is due to compete in the upcoming Junior World Athletics Championships to defend his 2016 discus throw title.
In football, the Under-19 Qatar national team, comprised entirely of Aspire Academy’s student-athletes and graduates, qualified to compete at the 2018 AFC Under-19 Championship, a biennial sporting event that’s due to be held next October 2018 in Indonesia. During the tournament, the top four teams will qualify for the 2019 FIFA Under-20 World Cup as the AFC representatives.
In fencing, student-athlete Yousef Al Bader finished second in the Turkish Fencing Federation European Cadet Circuit (Under-17), which featured 70 competitors from around the world.
Meanwhile in squash, Hamad Al Amri, one of this year’s graduates, won second place at the Luxembourg Junior Open for the Under-19 age group.
In addition to star athlete graduates, however, some Aspire student-athletes have gone on to pursue academic careers and now play a vital part in administrative, social sciences, languages, IT, communications, medicine and other roles. This breadth of experience among Academy graduates is all thanks to Aspire Academy’s unique mix of social, academic and sporting education, which sets students up for a fulfilling life in whatever specialisation they pursue.
The graduation ceremony took place in the Aspire Dome and was attended by a number of senior officials, including the Guest of Honour, HE the Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC) Secretary General, Mr. Jassim Rashid AlBuenain. Other attendees included Mr. Mohammed Khalifa Al Suwaidi, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Aspire Zone Foundation, Mr. Ivan Bravo, Director General of Aspire Academy, Mr. Ali Salem Afifa, Deputy Director General at Aspire Academy, Mr. Badr Al-Hay, Director of Education and Student Affairs of Aspire Academy, and Mr. Jassim Al-Jaber, School Principal at Aspire Academy. They were joined by members of Aspire Zone Foundation, Aspire Academy and Aspetar and local sports federations along with the proud parents of student athletes.
Speaking in his welcoming remarks, Mr. Ivan Bravo, Director General of Aspire Academy, said: “I’d like to extend my thanks to our distinguished guests, especially to the Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC) Secretary General, Mr. Jassim Rashid AlBuenain. As you know, here at Aspire Academy we have to work hand in hand with the local sports federations including the Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC). I’d also like to thank the President of Aspire Zone Foundation, Mr. Hilal Al Kuwari, and Mr. Tariq Al Naama, for their continued support. They’re always encouraging Aspire Academy to prosper even further. We also wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the efforts of our colleagues and staff at Aspire Academy, including the teachers, coaches and staff. Lastly, I’d like to congratulate all the student-athletes and their families who are with us today and I wish them a successful night in the future.”
“I’d also like to congratulate four of our graduates who weren’t able to attend tonight’s Graduation because they are preparing for the IAAF World U20 Championships Tampere 2018; these are our athletes Omar Ibrahim, Khalil Badawai, Moaz Ibrahim and Saoud Al Humaidi.”
Addressing the graduates, Bravo added: “I’m here to tell you to continue what you’re doing, and to work hard, be competitive, a leader and make everyone proud. You’re going to face a very difficult chapter in your life. The expectations are tremendous and that puts a lot of pressure on people. You come from a country with a small population, and that makes your ability to compete on the world stage all the more challenging and impressive. The pressure we put on ourselves can be good but overwhelming. It’s truly magnificent when Qatar makes it to the semi-finals in an Asian championship, or when one of you wins Gold or finishes in the top 8 at the Olympics, these are things that you and your colleagues are achieving and that’s tremendously impressive.”
He continued: “For me, success is when somebody can look at themselves in the mirror and says I gave everything I have to achieve this goal. When you don’t quit or give up, you are succeeding. We taught you these values here at Aspire, and now you’re going out to the world and you’re going to make it successful. I wish you the best of luck.”
The event started with Qatar’s national anthem, sung proudly by all the attendees, followed by a recital from the Quran by student-athlete Mohammad Saleh and a short movie highlighting the best moments from previous graduation ceremonies. Mr. Ivan Bravo and Mr. Badr Jassim Al Hay then addressed the graduates in heartfelt remarks.
This graduation ceremony brought to an end another successful year for Aspire Academy as it pursues its mission to identify and develop well-educated sports and academic champions. The ceremony also marks the culmination of six years of diligent effort from the student-athletes themselves during their time at Aspire Academy, and highlights the Academy’s continued efforts to launch their careers.