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27 Feb 2019, General

Doha, 27 February 2019.  The final stage of the Aspire Talent Identification programme known as Gold Camp took place on 26 and 27th February 2019 at Aspire Academy. About 100 year 6 Qatari boys who made it to this stage from the initial 4500 boys of 11 years of age from all across Qatar were put through academic tests involving reading, writing and psychological examination on top of the sporting and physical exercises and drills.   
Multi-sport Skill Development program (MSSD), coach Mourad Largach has conducted numerous Gold Camps and spoke of the established pattern and standard of excellence that has built over the years, “At this time of our journey with the talent identification programme, l always feel proud of the team-work and tremendous energy and cooperation across many sectors and by so many coaches and administrators to find the most talented boys and enroll them into Aspire. Being one of the final boys still being tested is already proof of sporting talent and the boys are now only a few steps away from the next stage – being offered a scholarship at Aspire Academy and having the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Aspire graduate athletes such as high jumper and World Champion Mutaz Essa Barshim and World top 40 ranked squash player, Abdulla Al Tamimi”.

Since its establishment in 2004, Aspire Academy follows its vision to find and develop future champions for Qatar. The Academy does this by working with all local schools and their teachers to assess the sporting potential of all boys from 8 years of age. The teachers use equipment that Aspire Academy provides to measure children’s body shape, their speed, their power and strength and their ability to run distance. From 8 years onwards the Academy examines these same measures each year to track boys’ progress. Those boys that perform well are invited to join Aspire’s Multi-sport Skill Development program (MSSD), which is an after-school coaching program to help train their sporting skills. 
At age 11, boys are assessed again, this time by a team from Aspire Academy which visits every school and performs the same measurements, which is called ‘Bronze Testing’. Boys that perform well are invited into Aspire to go through ‘Silver Testing’ and the very best boys then come back for the ‘Gold Camp’ testing where they work with Aspire Academy’s international coaches. After this visit, the top boys with significant potential to excel in Sport are nominated for entry into Aspire Academy to train as an athlete and scholar for the next six years. 

Aspire Academy Head of National Talent Identification, Andrew Douglas was overseeing his 11th Gold Camp edition and said, “We are pleased that set patterns are pretty much established now with partners and co-workers in this programme, from Ministry of education, schools, the Ministry of Sport the PE teachers in the schools and coaches as well as different sport federations and associations. Everyone is contributing to the identification of talented boys in Qatar. One notable difference this year that we are looking into concerns the number of scholarship places to be awarded. Previously we have had a mark of say 40 places per year but there is another approach where we are saying let the number be determined by the quality we have in a given year. In one year there could be few than 40 and in another more so we are going to try and look at the final numbers awarded scholarship on this basis, a different selection criteria which makes sure we have the best not necessarily meeting a quota expected.”

The Talent Identification programme and the Multi-sport Skill Development program (MSSD) point to the way Qatar as a nation has chosen to approach sport and physical well-being of its people says  Anthony Hazeldine,  Aspire Academy Talent Identification Senior Officer  confirms: “ We are living in a time when physical activity among young and old is decreasing but Qatar places importance of the nation’s health by encouraging sport and to be involved in the sport programmes that culminate in Gold Camp is satisfying. Qatar as a nation has set aside a National Sport Day and this sums up the high regard placed on sport. Small effort done consistently, frequently and tirelessly will bring immense benefits to the nation in the long term.’

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